Herbal Tea Poisons Two San Francisco Residents

Anyone who drank the tea and hasn't had any symptoms are safe, but shouldn't drink it anymore, health officials said.

Yu-Ping Xie, 56, purchased the tea from the Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. A department of health spokeswoman said the man was treated and released after recovering from the illness brought on by the poisoning. Both victims became weak and suffered abnormal heart rhythms that required resuscitation.

Earlier this month, a representative of the San Francisco County released the details of the two poisoning, urging all individuals who have purchased herbal tea from the Chinatown province to discard it immediately.

The city's medical examiner will now determine an official cause and manner of death as health department officials work with the store's owner to trace the source of the contaminated products. They picked different blends of medicinal teas that contained various ingredients. She died Saturday, Kagan said.


Investigators found the plant-based toxin aconite in tea samples the two provided to the health department. Aconite is commonly called monkshood, helmet flower, wolfsbane, "chuanwu", "caowu", and "fuzi" and is used in Asian herbal medicine to treat pains, bruises and other conditions.

Aconite is a wild plant and extremely toxic, according to the Journal of Clinical Toxicology.

Symptoms usually begin within a few minutes or up to a couple hours and can depend on the amount ingested. Doctors suspect that the two were poisoned by wolfbane, also known as aconite, a toxin used in Chinese remedies for centuries.

These include numbness or tingling of the face, mouth or limbs; weakness in the limbs; paralysis; low blood pressure; irregular heartbeat; chest pain; slow or fast heartbeat; nausea; vomiting; and abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to the public health department. "The story exemplifies a really sad example of how some plants, when they're misused or using the wrong plant, can be incredibly harmful". The FDA considers aconite to be a poisonous substance. If individuals that consumed the tea experience symptoms, they should immediately call 911 or seek medical attention. If the plant is not processed correctly or a larger than recommended dose is given, a risk of poisoning occurs.

  • Santos West