On Monday a woman was found unresponsive after drinking what was apparently an herbal tea. She bought the tea at a market in San Francisco’s Chinatown, specifically Sun Wing Wo Trading Company. Officials are urging citizens to throw away any tea from this market.
San Francisco’s Health Department report that the woman who was in her 50s drank the tea back in February and became very ill.
Not long after consuming the tea, the woman went to the hospital after experiencing irregular heart beats and weakness. She was in the hospital for a month before passing away on Saturday.
In an unrelated case, a man became ill after drinking tea from the same company, but of a different blend. According to the public health department, the man was in recovery and has since been sent home from the hospital.
The identity of the two people is not going public.
Tests done on the leaves came back positive for aconite, a toxin found in plants. The aconite was discovered in the tea leaves and the patients. Officials working for the health department have removed tea products from the company that caused these illnesses. The public health department is currently looking for the contamination source.
Dr. Tomás Aragón is urging everyone who has bought tea from this particular location to throw it out right away. Dr. Aragón is a health officer in San Francisco. He says that aconite will poison the heart and can cause death when ingested.
Aconite is also called monkshood, wolf’s band, Cao Wu, helmet flower, fuzi and Chan Wu. After processing the roots of the aconite plant, they typically use it for medicine. But raw aconite, on the other hand, is very toxic.
If one does ingest the raw aconite, within minutes to hours, symptoms start to kick in. Symptoms are tingling and numbness of the mouth, limbs, or face; weak limbs, immobility, chest pain, and low blood pressure. Other symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
The department of health states that there are no medicines that stop aconite poisoning. Though plants are adamant when used as medicine, when misused they can be harmful, if not deadly.
According to Jaclyn Chasse, who heads the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, aconite is not typically an herbal medicine.
Chasse told reporters that herbal ingredients that come from China are usually raw and natural. In this case, they were raw and not processed in a safe manner.
She suggests that when people utilize herbal ingredients, they purchase them from reputable companies.
Anyone who has bought and ingested the foul leaves from the trading company, but has yet to experience complications, should cease from using it. Those who have consumed the tea and are experiencing difficulties should contact 911 or their physician immediately.