cathartic: see laxative.
In medicine, a cathartic is a substance which accelerates defecation.

This is in contrast to a laxative, which is a substance which eases defecation, usually by softening the stool. It is possible for a substance to be both a laxative and a cathartic. However, agents such as psyllium seed husks increase the bulk of the stool.

Cathartics such as sorbitol are sometimes used in response to poisoning.

As an adjective, cathartic means psychotherapeutic or emotionally beneficial; viewing art or listening to music may be cathartic experiences.


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