Cathartics and the Sodium Pump


THE classical concept of the action of the vegetable cathartics is that they irritate the intestinal mucosa. As a result of this ‘irritation’ intestinal motility is increased, and it is assumed that fluid contents are hurried through the intestine so fast that water and electrolytes cannot be absorbed as they are normally because the bowel contents are in contact with the mucosal cells for too short a period of time1–3.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Sollmann, T., in A Manual of Pharmacology (Philadelphia : W. B. Saunders Co., 1943).

  2. 2

    Grollman, A., in Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger, 1954).

  3. 3

    Goodman, L. S., and Gilman, A., in The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics (New York: Macmillan Co., 1956).

  4. 4

    Watten, R. H., Morgan, F. M., Songkla, Y. N., Vanikiati, B., and Phillips, R. A., J. Clin. Invest., 38, 1879 (1959).

  5. 5

    Huber, G. S., and Phillips, R. A., Proc. SEATO Conf. Cholera, Dacca, East Pakistan, U.S. National Institutes of Health, 37 (1962).

  6. 6

    Ussing, H. H., and Zerahn, K., Acta Physiol. Scand., 23, 110 (1951).

  7. 7

    Wilson, T. H., in Intestinal Absorption (Philadelphia and London : W. B. Saunders Co., 1962).

  8. 8

    Fuhrman, F. A., Amer. J. Physiol., 171, 266 (1952).

  9. 9

    Taylor, I. M., Weller, J. M., and Hastings, A. B., Amer. J. Physiol., 168, 658 (1952).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

PHILLIPS, R., LOVE, A., MITCHELL, T. et al. Cathartics and the Sodium Pump. Nature 206, 1367–1368 (1965) doi:10.1038/2061367a0

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.