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A detox treatment that dare not speak its name

By: Andrew Biggs
Published: 19/04/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Brunch

By the time you read this column, I will have returned from a week away at detox.

Bringing Up The Rear


Yes, you heard right. Detox. Angelina Jolie’s done it. In fact, just about all of Hollywood has done the dreaded detox, so naturally, it’s my turn.

I’ve never really been into detox – it’s something people with too much money, time, and toxins encrusted onto the walls of their intestines do. And yet for the first time in my life, I am giving up all worldly pleasures and disappearing off to a remote southern island, as far away from the red-shirt menace as possible, to detox. That means giving up all those things that bring me so much comfort and pleasure in my frequent hours of despair and self-loathing, such as potato chips, Swenson’s Earthquakes and two-for-one Long Island Teas every Wednesday at the Londoner.

There’s no alcohol or fatty foods during detox. In fact, I have to give up all food whatsoever. For one week, I will not even be eating.

I know, I know, it’s crazy. But ever since I ran my marathon last November I’ve been looking for new life challenges. I dabbled in religion for a few months, but the guilt trips were debilitating. Traditional Thai fruit carving was so dreary I imagined the knife carving out my own wrist instead of the watermelon.

Then one February morning, a breezy phone call from my friend Andrew.

“I’m going down to Samui to detox this Songkran,” he said in his American drawl. “Wanna come?”

Ah! Detox! Now there’s something I haven’t ever tried! My friend gave me a quick rundown of what it would entail – no eating for a week, and at the end of it I’d feel fantastic. The idea of getting off on not eating, as opposed to the usual suspects that enable me to feel high (only to dump me the next morning with a shocking headache), was intriguing. And so I said yes.

February turned to March, which quickly rolled over to April. Suddenly I was two weeks away from leaving when I started getting the emails from Andrew’s lovely PA, Khun Shiela.

Dear Andrew,

Since you are only two weeks away from your detox experience, we would ask you to stop eating all meat. Also, no caffeine in any form. Eat plenty of raw vegetables and fruits, and we probably don’t need to remind you not to drink any alcohol as of now.

Best wishes


The cold reality of what I was doing gripped onto me like toxins in an intestine. To me, Samui is synonymous with food and drink, a proliferation of Eurotrash, bad tailor shops and overpriced public transport. The only decent things in that list were about to be struck off in one fell swoop.

Nevertheless I did it. I stopped eating meat for two weeks. I stopped all alcohol (to my surprise, that wasn’t a problem). But the killer was coffee. Within three days of giving it up I was experiencing tunnel vision and bad headaches. I became unbearable to my staff, and I lost my smile somewhere on the way to Channel 3 in those first few days and never regained it. That wasn’t the worst. One week before detox, Khun Shiela was tapping away again.

Dear Andrew,

By now your pre-detox should be well in session. We advise you to do a Liver Flush prior to the cleansing program. I enclose the recipe.

Best wishes

Khun Shiela.

Believe me, dear reader, a liver flush tastes worse than it sounds. It’s olive oil, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and orange juice blended together to form a bilious sludge one is expected to drink and then, fantastically, keep down. I did it for five nights in a row. It’s supposed to clean out your liver and gall bladder (aren’t there pills in these modern times to do this?), but let me tell you it cleans out your intestines as well. And speaking of the lower body, part of detox requires what they call colonic irrigation. Don’t pretend you don’t know, but for the blissful uninformed, it requires getting a “colema tip” (whatever that is) and affixing it to the end of a tube. The colema tip is then inserted up one’s rear end, and coffee is pumped into your rectum. Oh all right, not your rectum. Mine.

I have two very major issues with this: 1. I can’t drink coffee, but I can shove it up my backside? As far as I’m concerned, an orifice is an orifice is an orifice. I feel betrayed I have foregone my two morning black coffees for two whole weeks only to arrive at a resort where it is pumped up my behind.

Upon disseminating this information to friends, I have come across many fascinating facts. Apparently if you pump vodka up your backside, you get drunker than if you drank it. I can’t imagine doing that – wouldn’t all those ice cubes hurt? Another friend told me the ancient Mayans used to pump peyote, an hallucinogenic derived from the cactus plant, up their backsides in a religious ceremony where they then allegedly “saw the Gods”. I bet they did.

I can’t imagine what I will see when that colema tip makes contact with my backside, other than a stoic yet horrified expression from the staff member assisting me.

2. Just look at the bogus information one is fed about this colonic irrigation. “The process removes poisonous layers of waste that is caked to the inner walls of your intestines.” Two years ago I had a colonoscopy. Six hours before the camera-on-a-leash went into me, I had to drink a potion even more disgusting than Liver Flush. But it did the trick, leaving your intestines spotless so that the camera could investigate. And I mean spotless.

After the event I was given a VCD of what the camera had explored and seen deep within me. In the comfort of my home I opened a bottle of South Australian chardonnay, put on my favorite Mozart horn concerto, and watched the VCD as it explored my nether regions.

At the doctor’s the next day I had to ask her. “My intestines were so clean. Where was all the rubbish that’s supposed to be caked to the sides of my intestines, which colonic irrigation is supposed to remove?”

My ever-so-diplomatic doctor simply smiled and said: “Now you know.”

Well, I might have known, but it isn’t stopping me two years down the track giving up food, alcohol, caffeine, meat and my sensibility for one whole week. But who knows? Maybe I’ll come out of it a more stable, likeable human being. Maybe that burst of energy will kick in, or I’ll lose so much weight everybody will think I’ve got Aids.

I just hope for the sake of the resort staff it works. Otherwise the only tip they’re gonna get when I check out is of the used colema variety.

For the original article, click here.

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