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("Bath Salts")


Gerald F. O’Malley

, DO, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center;

Rika O’Malley

, MD, Grand Strand Medical Center

Last full review/revision Jun 2020| Content last modified Jun 2020
Click here for the Professional Version

Cathinone is an amphetamine Amphetamines Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that are used to treat certain medical conditions, but are also subject to abuse. Amphetamines increase alertness, enhance physical performance, and produce... read more -like stimulant derived from the plant Catha edulis (khat). The khat plant is a shrub grown in East Africa and on the Arabian peninsula. For centuries, people there have chewed the leaves for their mild stimulant effect. In those regions, chewing khat is often a social activity, similar to coffee drinking in other societies.

Recently, khat use has spread to other countries, and much stronger, man-made (synthetic) cathinones marketed as "bath salts" have become drugs of abuse.


The effects of synthetic cathinones are similar to those of amphetamines and include headache, a rapid heart rate (tachycardia Ventricular Tachycardia Ventricular tachycardia is a heart rhythm that originates in the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) and produces a heart rate of at least 120 beats per minute (the normal heart rate is... read more Ventricular Tachycardia ), palpitations, hallucinations, agitation, and an increased endurance and tolerance for pain. Some people become violent.



  • A doctor's evaluation

  • Blood and urine tests

Because synthetic cathinones are not detected with routine urine or blood testing, doctors usually base the diagnosis on symptoms in people known to have used the drug. Doctors typically order the following specific tests for anyone showing signs of severe acute cathinone intoxication:


  • IV sedatives

  • IV fluids

Typical treatments, which include IV sedatives and fluids and supportive care, are usually adequate. People with dangerously high body temperature (hyperthermia Serotonin Syndrome Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening drug reaction that tends to cause high body temperature, muscle spasms, and anxiety or delirium. Serotonin is a chemical that transmits impulses... read more ), persistently high heart rate or agitation, and blood tests that suggest possible kidney problems should be hospitalized and monitored for muscle breakdown and heart and kidney damage.

More Information about Cathinones

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Test your knowledge
Ayurveda is the traditional medical system of India. Its practices are distinctly different from those used in Western medicine. Which of the following is NOT typically used in Ayurvedic treatment? 
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