Two people ended up fighting for their lives after drinking herbal tea from a store in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Health officials said the incidents occurred separately, but both were caused by a lethal poison called aconite contained in the tea leaves. They said in a press release (via KRON):
“In separate incidents in February and March, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s became critically ill within an hour of drinking tea made from leaves supplied by the same San Francisco herbalist.”
The herbal tea was reportedly purchased from Sun Wing Wo Trading Company, located at 1105 Grant Avenue in Chinatown. Following consumption, both customers suddenly became weak and developed abnormal heart rhythms.
Unfortunately, aconite, a plant-based toxin, has no antidote. The customers were immediately hospitalized for resuscitation and intensive care. Dr. Tomás Aragón of the City & County of San Francisco warned:
“Anyone who has purchased tea from this location should not consume it and should throw it away immediately. Aconite poisoning attacks the heart and can be lethal.”
Aconite, which also goes by the names monkshood and wolfsbane, has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to relieve pain. Its leaves are only used after processing as they are toxic when raw.
Some people also take aconite by mouth to treat fever, gout, numbness, wounds and even to eliminate fluid in the space of the lungs’ covering.
Common symptoms of aconite poisoning include abdominal pain, chest pain, diarrhea, irregular heartbeats, nausea and vomiting.