Designer Drugs – Bath Salt and Sleep Apnea
Bath salts are a newly developed category of designer drugs. The brand name derives from early cases where the substances were disguised as bath salt. The crystals, powders, or white flakes most often resemble Epsom salt, but vary chemically. The bath salt industry has grown tremendously and there is a wide variety of salts offered at varying strengths, scents, and varieties. The ingredients in bath salt are very concentrated, sometimes more concentrated than rock salt, and the concentrated ingredients can interact with other bath products to produce new scents or effects.
One of the commonalities between bath salts and other psychoactive substances is the similarity in their appearance. Most bath salts do not have crystals; they are typically coarse white or beige powders. Most bath salts use an alkaline base such as sodium bicarbonate, potassium hydroxide, calcium carbonate, or baking soda, and/or a salt substitute. However, the salts used in the United States are derived from the Dead Sea.
In Canada, bath salts are sold as “bath bombs” or as “potpourri”. While the substances look similar, bath salt and potpourri have many differences. Potpourri contains flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, and stems whereas bath salts contain a mixture of the salt and various chemical compounds (usually phenylelamine or tryptamine). Tryptamine (which is the main ingredient in “speed”) and phenylelamine are the main chemicals in bath salts and potpourri, although some other chemicals may also be present.
Two of the main chemical constituents of bath and potpourri include phenylelamine and tryptamine. Phenylelamine and tryptamine can be found in a variety of different chemicals including caffeine and amphetamines. Caffeine has been found to be the cause of a number of medical complaints including Parkinson’s disease and depression. If tryptamine is present, it can cause central nervous system problems, hallucinations, dizziness, agitation, and confusion. Because tryptamines are released gradually over time, they have been compared to the effects of coffee. While the health benefits of tea tree oil and lavender essential oils cannot be discounted, it should be noted that there is no recorded history of their use as a standalone treatment for any of these conditions.
The only documented use of tryptamine and other bath salt drugs for treating medical conditions is in treating anxiety. This action is believed to be caused by the slowing of nerve impulses in the brain, which has the effect of reducing feelings of apprehension and fear. Clinical studies using patients with anxiety disorders as subjects have, however, not supported this causal link. More likely than not, these drugs seem to work by acting on the central nervous system to regulate brain activity. While this might explain some of the results of studies involving panic attacks and anxiety, it is not known whether these drugs actually have any effect on reducing or eliminating these feelings.
Many people associate bath salts with trips to the subconscious, where strange dreams and images result. While it is certainly possible that the drug has this effect on the human brain, it is unlikely that the designer drug is the sole contributor to these visions. Most often, people experience these perceptions as a direct result of an intense moment of relaxation. Relaxation can be achieved through meditation, hypnosis, yoga, and even through regular exercise. These techniques allow the individual to be in a state of calm and tranquility, a condition which the designer drug is designed to induce.
Another widely reported side-effect of bath salt use is sleepiness. Many users claim that they do not become aware that they are asleep until they wake up several hours later. To some, it is merely a short term effect. To others, it manifests itself as being so deeply relaxed that they do not remember getting to sleep at all. While the precise cause of this phenomenon is unknown, most experts agree that the effects are caused by the interaction of certain chemicals with the serotonin system of the brain.
Because bath salts have been used for centuries in the United States, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence about their health benefits. There is even an entire industry built around the claims of their usefulness and the alleged cures for a host of ailments. With medical research on this topic mixed in with anecdotal evidence and unverified accounts, the balance of opinion is not particularly clear. Many of the bath salts examined in recent studies seem to have very low toxicity levels and have been tested extensively on laboratory animals. With that said, there is still no evidence linking the designer drug with cancer or other diseases. When deciding whether or not to incorporate bath salts into your own personal health regimen, it is important to weigh the available evidence and make the decision based on sound reasoning and solid medical facts.