Two People Critically Ill After Consuming Toxic Tea In San Francisco


According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, two people got extremely sick and had to be admitted to the hospital after drinking a poisonous herbal tea. The toxic tea was reportedly acquired from a tea seller in Grant Avenue in Chinatown.

Two different incidents occurred in February and March where a woman and a man in their 50s and 30s, respectively, became critically sick within one hour of consuming herbal tea. The particular tea leaves were bought from the same herbal tea seller Sun Wing Wo Trading Co.

Both the victims suffered from severe weakness and irregular heartbeats afterward. As a result, the man and the woman had to be admitted as the symptoms demanded proper care in the hospital.

The Toxic Tea

A plant-based poison known as aconite has been spotted in the lab tests of the victims and from the samples of the tea leaves.

The city's health department inspectors are taking out the particular herbal products that affected the two victims from the shelves of Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. The department is also working in tandem with the owner of the shop to track down the entire source of the contagion. This will help the authorities determine that no other customer will become a victim of the toxic tea.

"Anyone who has purchased tea from this location should not consume it and should throw it away immediately," said Dr. Tomás Aragón, health Officer for the City & County of San Francisco.

He added that the poison found in the tea can easily affect the heart and can be really deadly. Even if others have bought the tea and did not feel any symptoms after consuming it, health officials are still asking people not to consume it for their safety.

Symptoms Of The Poison

Unusual sensory functions such as numbness or itchiness of face, mouth, or even arms and legs; weak limbs; and paralysis are some of the symptoms those consuming the toxic tea containing aconite may encounter.

Cardiological flaws such as extremely low blood pressure; chest throbbing and pain in the chest; abnormal heartbeats, which can cause sudden death; and some common symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps can just take minutes and up to a few hours to show up. If anyone notices any symptoms after drinking the tea, they should immediately call 911 or visit the nearest hospital to seek assistance.

What Is Aconite?

The common names of aconite are monkshood, helmet flower, wolfbane, chuanwu, caowu and fuzi and it is very commonly used in Asian herbal medicine as a cure for several medical conditions.

Although the raw flowers of the plant are extremely poisonous, it can be used safely after proper processing. However, no antidote has been created for aconite contamination.  

Photo: Andy Melton | Flickr

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