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What are the signs and symptoms of Bath Salts abuse?

Bath Salts, aka Psychoactive Bath salts, aka PABS, aka Plant Food, are a collection of up to 20 or more psychedelic and stimulant drugs, in a crystalline, colored form. One slang term for this combination of drugs is Bath Salts, which should not be confused with colored and scented Epsom salts which are put in bath water. Epsom salts are Magnesium Sulfate, which many people find a soothing addition to warm bath water, to relax sore muscles. Dyes are added to make them an attractive color, and scents such as lavender or mint are added to make them more pleasant. Ingestion of Epsom salts does not have any psychoactive effects, but will result in a laxative effect, or diarrhea. Actual plant food is composed of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash, which provides key nutrients for houseplants, but is toxic if consumed, and also has no psychoactive or mind-altering effects. This article will focus on the drug combination named Bath salts.

The primary ingredients are of the chemical class cathinones, which are the psychoactive ingredients in Catha Edulis, a psychoactive plant found in eastern Africa.  The active ingredients in Bath Salts vary and can include: 

  • Mephedrone  
  • MDPV (3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone), 
  • Alpha-PVP
  • Methylone

Mephedrone and MDPV are synthetic versions of Methcathinone, which is an example of one of the cathinones. 

What are Bath Salts?

Bath salts come in a variety of colors, and appear as small crystals, granules, or powder.  They may be packaged and labeled as [soaking] Bath Salts or Plant Food, and marked “not for human consumption” to circumvent laws prohibiting purchase or possession of controlled substances.

How Bath Salts are used?

Bath salts can be taken orally, injected, snorted, or smoked.  When Bath Salts are taken with alcohol, the effects of the Bath Salts are significantly intensified.

Effects of Bath Salts on the user?

The effects of Bath Salts include are variable, intense, and unpredictable, given the variation of chemical compounds which they are composed of, which differ from one batch to the next. Psychedelic drugs also tend to produce different effects among users, partly based on their expectations, and the setting in which they are used. The effects include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hyper-sexuality or increased sexual desire. 
  • Intensified sense of touch
  • Bruxism (jaw grinding)
  • Tachycardia (elevated heart rate)
  • Hypertension (elevated  blood pressure)
  • Hyperthermia (extremely high body temperature)
  • Insomnia 
  • Hostility or aggression
  • Extreme paranoia 
  • Vivid hallucinations
  • “strange eye movements”
  • Diaphoresis (sweating)
  • Panic attacks, suicidal thoughts 


When Bath Salts first came to the attention of the public, a media story ran on a man who bit into another man face while supposedly under the influence of Bath Salts. The attacker was shot to death by a responding police officer. It was found that he had not used Bath Salts, but was severely mentally ill. The media and the public were quick to launch into moral hysteria, and made a very big leap of logic to conclude that Bath Salts turned the user into a Zombie Cannibal. While this makes for very dramatic news, this is not true. However, Bath Salts are a dangerous combination of drugs which should be avoided.