Bath salts are a newly developed category of designer drugs. The name comes from cases where the impure drugs were disguised as bath salts with an innocuous-sounding name like bath salt. The bath salts usually resemble Epsom salts, with the white crystal, granules or crystals, however, differ chemically from Epsom salt. This article discusses the varieties available for purchase, the effects they produce, and ways to make safe use of bath salts that are not as well known as Ecstasy. Bath salts may have an adverse effect on some people.
The chemicals used to make bath salts were once used by people seeking relaxation, a state of mental or spiritual wholeness, and to alleviate anxiety, stress and panic attacks. Currently bath salts are sold as a legal, socially acceptable way to enhance one’s experience of life. The “epsom salt” was first sold commercially in a product called “Epsom Salts” (not to be confused with the traditional Epsom Rock) in 1957. At that time bath salts were marketed as safe substitutes for alcohol and tobacco. Several years later, following the FDA’s actions against bath salts’ use as a mood enhancer, the substance lost its popularity.
Today bath salts continue to be marketed as safe substitutes for alcohol or tobacco. Many bath salts contain synthetic stimulants like phenylethylamine and tryptamine. In experiments with animals, tryptamines produced an increase in blood pressure and heart rate; phenylethylamine increased respiratory rate; and phenethylamine increased sensory stimuli in a primate brain study. Unfortunately, bath salts have yet to produce any scientific data establishing whether these drugs are effective or not.
Since bath salts are sold as a natural alternative to alcohol or tobacco, and because they are considered less harmful than the original substances, bath salt manufacturers are free to include any number of synthetic cathinones in their products. These can be divided into two major categories, namely N-phenidate, also known as a spice, and N-ethyl-propentine, also known as ghost. Although N-phenidate and N-ethyl-propentine have similar chemical structure, there are substantial differences between these two drugs.
In a nutshell, however, tryptamines act in a very different manner from bath salts’ primary active ingredient, Epsom salt. They function instead by interacting with the brain’s neurotransmitters to cause an out of body experience similar to lucid dreaming. Because tryptamines act in the central nervous system, they can cross the blood-brain barrier to enter the brain and thus have similar effects as the original ADHD drugs, like the popular methylphenidate. Unfortunately, tryingptamines has yet to produce any concrete clinical results.
The second main difference between bath salts and tryptamines lies in the carrier molecules. Unlike the non-essential amino acid L-tryptophan, tryptamine carries a much longer chain of amino acids, including arginine and histidine. This means that it takes much longer to cross the blood-brain barrier as compared to L-tryptophan, which is immediately released into the brain after ingestion. In addition to this, tryptamines and bath salts share a few general similarities, such as their main active ingredients, which include N-phenidate and N-ethyl-propentine.
Despite the fact that these two drugs share many of the same chemical composition, there are some marked differences between them as well. For example, bath salts contain no medical applications, whereas over the counter medications containing L-tryptophan do. Also, bath salt users do not lose consciousness when taking these drugs, whereas the effect of L-tryptophan is, of course, to allow consciousness to lapse for a short period of time. The lack of any notable medical application and the similarity of the effects between synthetic cathinones and bath salts also leads to many public health and safety concerns regarding these drugs. Most synthetic cathinones are scheduled either under the Controlled Substances Act or the Benzodiazepine Classifications. The lack of a medical use makes them a legal substance with very limited restrictions.
When bath salts and other psychoactive bath salts are sold legally, they are subject to some serious legal scrutiny. Despite the fact that bath salts have been used as a social experience in countries around the world for centuries, bath salts have been banned in the UK. It is unclear as to whether the ban was intended at bath salts or in the broader context of the government’s wider anti-drug efforts, or if they were simply ignorant of bath salts’ potentially harmful potentialities. Regardless of which the reason is, however, bath salts are still illegal to sell in the UK, despite the fact that they do not pose any real health threat to the consumer.