Once in a while, people can get backed up. It happens. If you find yourself unable to, uh, go to the bathroom, you might actually benefit from what TikTok’s calling an “internal shower” drink, aka a goopy, chunky concoction — with over 9 million views, BTW — that promises to flush your system with the help of water, lemon, and a whole lot of chia seeds.
The recipe is meant to “shower” down through your digestive tract, move things along, and send you off to the bathroom for a productive bowel movement. And it really might work, says gut health dietician Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD. “When you add water to the chia seeds it causes the seeds to swell, thanks to the fiber, and it’s that gel that may help with pooping,” she tells Bustle.
Most people don’t get the recommended 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, says Sauceda, so if you struggle to poop, it really might help to up your intake. “Fiber, especially soluble fiber, helps for easy and effortless pooping,” she says. The thing is, it is possible to get too much fiber, especially whilst throwing back a drink made of chia seeds.
“It’s definitely easy to overdo it because chia seeds are so fiber-packed for a small amount,” she says. “Too much fiber, or too much fiber too quickly, can make you constipated and this could mean the drink isn’t going to do anything for you but give discomfort.” It might also go the other way and cause diarrhea — a sign to stop drinking that elixir.
That said, here’s what else you need to know about the internal shower drink in case you want to give it a try.
How To Make The “Internal Shower” Drink
To give your body an “internal shower,” fill a glass with water, add the juice of one lemon, and then stir in two tablespoons of chia seeds. Wait about 15 minutes for the chia seeds to expand, then drink. (A quick tip from TikTok? Stir the chia seeds really fast before drinking — you don’t want to try to swallow chunks.)
The chia seeds will expand into a gel-like consistency, which is what helps move poo through your system. But the lemon is a factor, too, says Dana Ellis Hunnes, Ph.D., MPH, RD, a senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center. The sour, acidic juice may help to stimulate your gut, she tells Bustle, which can increase movement or motility in your gastrointestinal tract.
While the internal shower is supposed to work “within minutes,” not everyone will find themselves rushing to the toilet. “This is a long-term strategy and not a short-term fix,” Sauceda says, “so don’t expect a bowel movement anytime soon after drinking it.” It may take up to an hour, and sometimes even longer.
If you still haven’t gone by the next day, repeat the process. Sauceda says it’s OK to make the drink two days in a row as long as your body is tolerating the extra fiber and you don’t feel too gassy or bloated.
Other Ways To Get Things Moving
If you’re worried about abdominal pain, try adding fewer chia seeds into the mix. “Your gut doesn’t like change,” Sauceda explains. “If your gut isn’t used to a lot of fiber, two tablespoons of chia seeds at one time can throw it for a loop. I would start with a teaspoon or two and then adjust to what feels good for your gut.”
Another tip? Go for a walk or attempt some type of movement or exercise. “Moving your body is one of the most underrated ways to help you poop,” Sauceda says.
And don’t forget to add other types of fiber to your diet to get those recommend 25 grams. “Chia seeds should only make up a part of your daily fiber intake,” Sauceda says, so eat other soluble fiber-rich foods like black beans, Brussels sprouts, avocados, figs, apples, sunflower seeds, and oats. If you still can’t poop after doing an internal shower, this might do the trick.
Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD, gut health dietician
Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center