A man with a ponytail appeared with a bucket, a tube and some Vaseline. Time for my colonics

Never trust a hippie.

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Detoxing depends entirely on the idea that essentially you are full of filth. If you eat normal things you have contaminated yourself inside and out, so you must be cleansed.

When a fried of mine suffered a bereavement and felt very low I thought we should go on one of those spa breaks that women’s magazines bang on about. We booked one that mentioned detoxing and treatments and off we set.

I didn’t read the small print. We arrived in the beautiful West Country and were met by barefoot types in outfits that may look fine in Goa or Totnes but really nowhere else.

What the small print said was that we would be on a juice fast. I still interpreted this to mean some juice and salads, or “health food”. I was wrong.

“They expect us not to eat for a week?” I said. My friend was sanguine. There were to be husks and pills. This was not the worst aspect. A man with a ponytail came to our room with a board, a bucket, some tubing and Vaseline. “This is for your colonics. Twice a day and you’ll feel amazing.”

We’d shelled out a fortune to lie on top of a loo on a board with rubber tubes up our bums for DIY colonics. Again, this wasn’t the worst aspect. The worst aspect was the group meetings after some vaguely Buddhist meditation, where everyone talked about the result of said colonics. People who had just met sat around in a circle discussing literally their own shit. Some photographed it on their smartphones. The discussion was supervised by a woman who repeatedly told us that black plaque had been building up for decades in our intestines and this was the only way to shift it.

My dissent was dismissed.

“You need to stop living in your head.”

Still, who cares what rubbish is spouted when people are losing weight? Not eating anything at all does that. An incredibly skinny woman was fainting by day three.

“Can’t she have a carrot or something?” I asked after she said she couldn’t walk any more. No she could not, though every conversation was about food. One man went on about steak and chips.

It turned out all the staff had had affairs with each other but were “friends”, in that passive-aggressive way alternative types are. Even I could feel the hateful vibes. During a healing session I was told: “Your chakras are unbalanced.” My vibrational field was also disturbed.

“My vibrational field is starving,” I said.

The colonics were not for me, though others persevered even after the day when we had nothing but beetroot juice and my friend thought she was bleeding to death.

When a quiet girl complained about severe cramps she was told this was a common reaction to detox. The next day I found out that despite some Reiki healing in the middle of the night she had been rushed to hospital with acute appendicitis.

Never trust a hippie.

Suzanne Moore will be appearing in an NS event at Latitude Festival on 16 July

Suzanne Moore is a writer for the Guardian and the New Statesman. She writes the weekly “Telling Tales” column in the NS.

This article appears in the 01 July 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Crisis Europe