Two people from San Francisco were hospitalized after they purchased herbal tea which contained a lethal toxin. The tea was bought from San Francisco’s Chinatown in February and March. The health officials discovered that it contained aconite.
The officials reported that two people, a woman aged 50 and a man aged 30, fell ill around one hour after they consumed tea produced by Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. They purchased the tea from the Chinatown in San Francisco.
They ended up in the emergency room with abnormal heart rhythms that had put their lives in danger, so they had to be resuscitated. After a laboratory analysis, the officials discovered that the tea leaves contained aconite, a toxin found in plants. After consuming the tea, the patients contracted the toxin.
San Francisco’s health officer, Dr. Tomás Aragón, warned all people who shopped from Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. to be careful with the tea products.
“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.”
What is aconite?
The raw flowers of the aconite plant are extremely toxic when they are in their natural state. However, they lose their toxic properties only after they are properly processed. The plant can be used in the treatment of bruises, pains, or other conditions.
Aconite is widely used in the traditional Chinese medicine. It is also known as monkshood or helmet flower. The website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that aconite roots can be used only after thorough processing, to reduce the alkaloid content. The recommended technique is boiling and soaking, as well as decoction.
Thus, the alkaloid components will be hydrolyzed and turned into less or non-toxic derivatives. However, be careful. If you consume a dose larger than the recommended maximum, you are at risk of aconite poisoning.
The investigation continues
The two people who suffered aconite poisoning are still hospitalized. Both cases were brought to the California Poison Control System at San Francisco General Hospital. This is when the officials discovered the link of the patients with Sun Wing Wo Trading Co.
The health officials started an investigation. They made sure that the tea came from the same company, it was purchased from the same place, and caused the poisoning shortly after it was consumed. Now, they will continue the inquiries on the tea company and will try to find out exactly what happened.
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