March 2012 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share! This month’s topic is especially timely and important… it looks like the cold temperatures have arrived!

The drug known as “bath salts” has been in the news a lot recently. This substance is NOT used for soaking in the tub! Bath salts are made for and intended for substance abuse!  Bath salts are also commonly referred to as Monkey Dust, Ocean, Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky, and Purple Wave. Bath salts are often packaged as a household product and labeled “not for human consumption”. They are often sold in plastic baggies.

In the human brain, the chemicals in bath salts act like powerful stimulants and are very similar to amphetamines-speed, and ecstasy. Bath salts look like a white or light brown crumbly powder. They can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed.

There are severe side effects reported with bath salt use. Some of these include agitation, an increased heart rate, anxiety, nosebleeds, increased blood pressure, muscle spasms, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, aggressive behavior, paranoia, panic attacks, seizures, loss of appetite, dehydration, and memory loss. Bath salts can cause death from kidney failure, heart failure, or stroke. Symptoms can last for at least four or five days and they can come and go without warning. People who use bath salts report a strong urge to use more, even when they did not enjoy the effects previously. It is highly addictive. The long-term effects are not known! The effects on a fetus are not known!

On September 28, 2011, the State of Maine enacted a law making the possession and trafficking of bath salts illegal. On October 21, 2011, the Drug Enforcement Agency enacted an emergency measure which makes possessing and selling the chemicals in bath salts illegal. The Drug Enforcement Agency and the United Sates Department of Health and Human Services will take a year to determine whether bath salts should be permanently controlled.

Any time a person puts an uncontrolled or unregulated substance into their body, the effects are unknown and can be dangerous. Many law enforcement officials believe the chemicals in bath salts are made in China and India and are packaged to be sold over the internet or to be placed in convenience stores and smoke shops. The best decision….Do not use bath salts at all!

For more information on bath salts visit,,, or the Northern New England Poison Center at If you suspect someone is under the influence of bath salts, do not confront them. The person may become violent or paranoid very quickly. Call 911 and report you suspect someone may have used bath salts.   


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