“Bath salts” may still be responsible for the zombie apocalypse. A Florida man ate another mans face, again! The first time it happened was in Miami, 2012. Most recently 19-year-old, Austin Harrouff attacked and stabbed to death a couple in their own garage, and then commenced to eat the face of the male victim. The last time designer drugs commonly referred to as “bath salts” were implicated in the cause of such heinous cannibalism. The toxicology reports however, did not find the drugs in his system, and now that it has happened again, people are hesitant to blame the incident on a drug induced psychosis, but are suspecting a mental health illness.
However, it is very likely that bath salts are the cause and I’m going to tell you why.
The use of “bath salts” became prevalent in the United States in the early 1990s and 2000s, particularly after around 2009 or their euphoric effect. They are said to increase alertness, sociability, and sexual arousal. They were once marketed as antidepressants and appetite-suppressants in the former Soviet Union, during the 1960s. Use of the drug for these purposes were discontinued due to the drugs undesirable side effects.
What are “bath salts” ?
“Bath salts” are designer drugs that are psychoactive and hallucinogenic. Bath salts are not related to Epsom bath salts, they are in fact phenylethylamine analogs similar to cocaine, MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine or ecstasy), and amphetamines. Specifically they are synthetic cathinones.
Cathinone is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in the young leaves of the Catha edulis (khat) plant. Cathinone is an analogue of amphetamine, but it breaks down rapidly to a less potent compound, Cathine. Synthetic cathinones were synthesized to resolve this “problem”.
Synthetic Cathinone : “bath salts”
Methcathinone is the proper name for Bath salts. As Cathinone was altered to contain a N-Methyl group. Methcathinone was first synthesized in 1928.
Earlier I mentioned that Bath salts are phenylethylamine analogues and Synthetic cathinone, and that cathinone is an analogue of amphetamine. Simply put; these chemical compounds share the same pharmacophore. A pharmacophore is the part of a chemical structure that imparts the compounds activity. Amphetamine and MDMA have the same pharmacophore as phenethylamine, and are therefore chemically and pharmacologically similar in activity and effect in the body.
Sign & Symptoms and Adverse Effects
The white to brownish colored powder can be snorted, ingested in pill form, and because it is hydrophilic —dissolvable in water, it can be injected intravenously.
Signs that someone may have used bath salts are chest pains, hyperthermia, hypertension, tachycardia, and nausea and vomiting.
“Bath Salts” cause several adverse neurological symptoms with excessive or repeated use. In progressive order, the use of bath salts result in headache, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, and psychosis.
Hallucinations can be auditory and tactile. When psychosis is also present, the hallucinations can be persistent; lasting up to several days.
Without ever displaying signs or being diagnosed with mental illnesses, such as, psychosis or depression, many users of bath salts engage in bizarre behavior that causes harm to themselves. There is also a high incidence of people hanging, shooting, and stabbing themselves after using Bath salts. Slitting ones own throat and jumping off of bridges has also been reported.
Toxicity resulting from continued use can cause immediate death from: seizures, cardiovascular collapse, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Kidney and Liver damage are also possible.
Bath Salts and the Zombie Gait
If the above signs and symptoms have not convinced you as yet, that bath salts may indeed be responsible for zombie-like behavior, then listen to this:
When designers are making “bath salts”, sometimes the product is not properly purified, and the end product is left adulterated with potassium permanganate. Potassium permanganate is used in the chemical reaction that oxidizes pseudo-ephedrine to methcathinone (synthetic cathinone). Potassium permanganate interferes with dopamine production in the brain, and people who are intoxicated from the use of potassium permanganate tainted “bath salts” have uncontrolled muscle twitching, postural instability ( bad posture and poor balance), extreme drowsiness, and walk in a funny or weird manner. Any of this remind you of a zombie?
Why or How do Bath Salts Cause this ?
Mechanism of Action.
“Bath salts” mimic the endogenous catecholamines monoamines of the body: dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Having a higher affinity for monoamine transporters, they block the uptake of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine from the synapse, increasing the concentration of monoamines in the synaptic cleft between neurons. This increase is what results in the drugs stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. Essentially Bath salts cause a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Detection and Treatment
“Bath salts” can be detected in the urine or blood of users, however routine drug screens do not always detect synthetic cathinones. There are a variety of structures in the chemical composition of what is sold as “bath salts” and do to chemical engineering, the drug can be altered and synthesized into new compounds that may not be included on current drug screening panels. Drugs are often adulterated with other substances, and this can complicate detection of the pure drug. Forensic laboratories that do not specialize in the detection of cathinone may render a false negative test result for the use of bath salts. Furthermore, at the time of the first incident there were few studies done on bath salts, and what was known of them, had to be extrapolated based on their structure-activity relationship to other drugs, such as MDMA.
Packaging and names of the drug also vary and change when sold over the internet or on the streets in novelty stores. The effects of bath salts combine the worst of both methamphetamine and MDMA. Toxicity is treated with benzodiazepines and antipsychotic drugs.