Comprehensive review of bath salts

April 25, 2012, 11:12 pm


Bath Salts: The Ivory Wave of Trouble. Olives TD et al. West J Emerg Med 2012 Feb;13:58-62.

Full Text

This review the synthetic cathinones mephedrone and MDPV — with 47 references — is available via open access and is well-worth downloading a reading. It is reasonably comprehensive, given the paucity of good clinical or experimental data. The authors describe the presentation of “bath salt” toxicity, which is essentially  consistent with a sympathomimetic toxidrome including tachycardia, hypertension, hyperthermia, agitation and delirium.

The authors stress that although the exact agent involved may not be known on presentation, the management is similar to that for toxicity from any of the better known sympathomimetic agents such as cocaine, amphetamine, or ecstasy.

Related posts:

Multiorgan failure after injection of “bath salts” (MDPV)

Comprehensive review of new designer drugs

Death from MDPV-associated excited delirium

Bath salts and necrotizing fasciitis: a case report

All bath salts are not mephedrone 

“Legal Highs”: new psychoactive drugs

Toxicology of Synthetic Cathinones

The science of designer drugs: essential review

Baths salts: calls to poison centers in Louisiana and Kentucky

New York Times on bath salts

NBC’s Dateline goes undercover to investigate the “bath salt” industry

“Bath salts” in Michigan

Dr. Oz on bath salts (MDPV)

NBC’s Today show reports on “bath salts” (MDPV)

Death in Britain: “Ivory Wave” or Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

“Ivory Wave” identified as MDPV

It’s not your mom’s bath salts

To read my Emergency Medicine News column on bath salts, click here.


  1. Scott Joing Says:

    and here is Dr. Olives speaking on bath salts

  2. Rosalind Dalefield Says:

    Just out of curiosity, what happens if some naive soul uses the product labelled, as bath salts? Is there any risk of effects from dermal exposure, or inhalation of steam containing the cathinones?

  3. Leon Says:


    I’m not sure, but since to my knowledge ingestion or insufflation of these products do not cause caustic complications and they would be diluted out by the bathwater, I doubt there would be significant effects.

    A related question: what if another naif went to a local bed and bath store, purchased legitimate every-day bath salts, and snorted them? We actually had a case like this. Since these are usually epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) with a relatively neutral pH of 6, again I would not expect significant adverse clinical effects.