What is K2?

Ashley Haynes, MD

K2 is one of many names for a group of drugs called synthetic cannabinoids.  They are often referred to as “synthetic marijuana” or “fake weed”.  These drugs are different from marijuana, however, because they are not natural plant material, but man-made chemicals.  They act on similar areas of the brain as the active chemicals in marijuana but are stronger with often longer lasting effects.

These are typically a liquid drug which is then sprayed onto plant material, which occasionally have their own mood altering properties but are usually inactive on their own.  The result often looks like potpourri, and may be sold as potpourri to try to skirt law enforcement.  Each batch is different, and there are over 140 different drugs in this class.  This means the effects a user gets can vary a lot each time they use.

Other common names include spice, black mamba, cloud nine . . . but MANY names have been reported.

After synthetic cannabinoids have been sprayed onto plant material, they are usually placed in bright foil packages and sold.  They are usually smoked but sometimes the liquid is used in an e-cigarette.  It has been available in powders that may be swallowed or “snorted”.  Brewed teas have also been reported.

Effects can take place as early as 10 minutes, and may last a few hours, but occasionally can last much longer depending on which particular chemicals were used.  People use it for mood elevation, but many adverse reactions have occurred which include increased heart rates, palpitations, anxiety, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure.  Severe cases have caused kidney failure, seizures, heart attacks and death.  Psychosis may also develop and has been reported to persist for weeks after use.  They are reported to be anywhere from 4 to 100 times the intensity of marijuana.

Repeated use has led to tolerance, meaning higher doses are required to see effects.  Stopping the drug abruptly in individuals with heavy use has caused withdrawal symptoms and cause the patient to want to return to use.  Drug rehabilitation programs may be required to help patients stop their use.

Clearly this “fake pot” is not the marijuana from decades past.

What Are Bath Salts?

Ashley Haynes, MD

“Bath Salts” are the common name for a group of drugs called “synthetic cathinones”.  These drugs are very similar to amphetamines.  Natural cathinone is found in the plant khat, which is not legal to import to the US.

Other common names include Cloud Nine, Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky, Flakka, but hundreds exist.  They may be sold as “jewelry cleaner” or in packets labeled as “bath salts” in an effort to skirt law enforcement.

Bath salts are usually found as powders or crystals.  Most commonly they are crushed and “snorted”, but can be swallowed as a tablet.  Occasionally they may be produced in a liquid form to be vaporized in e-cigarettes or injected.

These drugs are all stimulants, and act like cocaine or amphetamines to increase adrenaline.  These also increase dopamine and serotonin, which can lead to more hallucinations, paranoia and psychosis than other stimulants.

Typical effects start within 10-20 minutes and may last 2-12 hours.  Reactions include fast heart beats, palpitations, high blood pressure, muscle breakdown or damage, irritability, psychosis and hallucinations.

These drugs do have addiction potential and abruptly stopping after regular use can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Very rarely persons have attempted to use Epsom salts for intoxication purposes, being familiar only with the name “bath salts”.  If large amounts are swallowed it can cause nausea and vomiting or increase salt levels in the body, but will not cause intoxication.

Inspirra Healthcare and Workforce Alpha Team Up to Create Naloxone Rescue App

Inspirra Healthcare and Workforce Alpha teamed up recently to develop an App to bring Naloxone rescue kits to opioid overdose victims faster to save lives through an FDA challenge! There were many talented and passionate teams competing to solve the issue of opioid overdose deaths, which has been on the rise since 2014 in the US.

The App will connect those who have rescue kits with overdose victims faster to save more lives.  This is will be an important tool to help identify those who carry rescue kits with those who need help. Trained responders, friends and family members who carry rescue kits can download the app or login via a web portal to request help.

Here is the video demo of the app created by Inspirra Healthcare and Workforce Alpha



How to Choose a Supplement?

As I mentioned previously, dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and there are no strict labeling standards. In addition, there are hundreds of brands available for any given category . So how do you choose a supplement that is safe, free of contaminants and has the ingredients the label indicates?

First, discuss any supplement needs with your healthcare provider and pharmacist.  They can best guide you regarding the need for any supplement and monitor for any side effects or interactions with your current medications. Ask for their suggestions on brands they trust and would recommend.  They have years of experience and their own expertise on which brands are safe and effective.

Continue reading How to Choose a Supplement?

Dietary Supplements : What is the Concern?

According to the National Institutes of Health- Office of Dietary Supplements, Americans spent over $36 billion on dietary supplements in 2014.

The 2015 Council for Responsible Nutrition survey, states 68% of US adults take a “dietary supplement” and 85% are confident about the safety, quality and effectiveness of “vitamins and minerals”.

However, dietary supplements are NOT regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means the manufacturers are responsible for labeling, quality, and safety standards. Why is this a concern?

Continue reading Dietary Supplements : What is the Concern?

Locked Medicine Cabinets

Why is it a good idea to have a locking medication cabinet to store your medications? To reduce access and avoid accidental poisonings. A majority of kids get access to prescription drugs for misuse or abuse from their own home, a relative’s home or a friend’s home. Install the locking cabinet on a closet or wall out of high traffic areas in the home. All medications should be stored in a cool, dry place. Don’t install the cabinet in a bathroom. Make sure the cabinet is not easily removable.


Malini Ghoshal RPh, MS

Medication Storage

As a pharmacist, I am often asked regarding proper medication storage. Most medications that do not require refrigeration should be stored at controlled room temperatures- in a cool dry place. However, when I ask people–“where do you store your medications?” The answer invariably is the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. If you think about the temperature variances and humidity in a typical bathroom, you understand this is the worst place to keep medications. Medications breakdown much faster and may not work as well. Understandably there is a great deal of confusion that contributes to storage issues. For example: why are bathroom cabinets called “medicine cabinets”? Why do pharmaceutical commercials often show a host of medications stored in a “bathroom medicine cabinet”?

What are some concerns with improper storage?

A few include:

  • access- who has access to that bathroom where you store medicines?
  • potential breakdown of medication due to temperature variances
  • safety- potential accidental poisonings.

The best place to store medications is on a high shelf, preferably with a lock to restrict access. Expired medications should be routinely inventoried and discarded using proper guidelines. Do not throw old medications down the sink or toilet as these will enter our water systems. Safe use of medications requires proper storage as well as use.


Malini Ghoshal RPh MS