BalneotherapyConsumer Alert

Consumer Alert: “Bath Salts”

Unlike traditional cosmetic bath salts, which are packaged and sold for adding to bath water for soaking and cleaning, drugs sold as “bath salts” have no legitimate use for bathing and are intended for substance abuse.


Here’s what we know.

  • On February 1, 2011, the Michigan Department of Community Health contacted the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Poison Control Center regarding reports of illness caused by the use of recreational designer drugs sold as “bath salts.”
  • The Poison Control Center reported that many people had visited the local emergency department with cardiovascular and neurologic signs of acute intoxication.
  • Subsequent investigation identified 35 people who had ingested, inhaled, or injected “bath salts.”
  • The most common signs and symptoms of toxicity:
    • Agitation (23 patients [66%])
    • Tachycardia (22 [63%])
    • Delusions/hallucinations (14 [40%]).
  • 17 patients were hospitalized, and one was dead upon arrival at the emergency department.
  • Other cases have been reported.

The bottom line?

More details in the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) report can be found here.

Bath salts,” not to be mistaken for the product that goes in bath water, are a synthetic drug available legally at convenience stores and head shops around the US. Medical experts say the powders can be smoked, ingested, or snorted.

Through March 22, 2011, poison control centers in 45 states and the District of Columbia reported calls related to “bath salts.” By April 6, centers had received 5 times more “bath salts” calls in 2011 than in 2010.

Of note, nearly half the patients had a history of serious mental illness (eg, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression) in their medical records, and 16 of 17 patients with drug test results were positive for drugs other than those in the “bath salts.”

5/19/11 19:30 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.