- Open Access
A 'spicy' encephalopathy: synthetic cannabinoids as cause of encephalopathy and seizure
© Louh and Freeman; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014
- Published: 20 October 2014
- Serotonin Syndrome
- Poison Control
- Poison Control Center
- National Poison
- Accurate Laboratory
Synthetic cannabinoids, often sold under labels such as 'spice', are a popular product sold in incense shops and on the internet. When inhaled, consumers often report experiences similar to marijuana use, thus making synthetic cannabinoids a popular street substitute for marijuana. With increasing use, the number of patients presenting to emergency departments due to the toxic effects of these products has increased. While many reported side effects, including anxiety, agitation, tachycardia, and hypertension ,, are transient and relatively mild, reports of more severe consequences, including psychosis and seizures, are increasing , with ICU admissions.
'Spice' or synthetic cannabinoid-induced toxicity is an emerging etiology of new-onset seizure and does not appear on conventional drug screens. We feel it is important for critical care providers to be aware of this product in order to recognize and appropriately treat this toxicity with supportive management until symptoms resolve. Obtaining additional history about smoking these substances can be helpful in making a clinical diagnosis until more widespread laboratory testing becomes available.
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