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Officials: 2 poisoned after drinking herbal tea

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Two people have been poisoned after drinking herbal tea in San Francisco, according to the Department of Public Health.

The residents are critically ill and are hospitalized, officials said. The tea contained Aconite, a lethal poison.

“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. Each quickly developed weakness, and then life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms, requiring resuscitation and intensive hospital care. A plant-based toxin, Aconite, was found in lab tests of the patients and the tea samples they provided,” health officials said in a press release.

The tea leaves were bought at the Sun Wing Wo Trading Company, located at 1105 Grant Avenue, in Chinatown, officials said. Health inspectors are removing the two products from the shelves.

“Anyone who has purchased tea from this location should not consume it and should throw it away immediately,” Health Officer for the City & County of San Francisco Dr. Tomás Aragón said. “Aconite poisoning attacks the heart and can be lethal.”

If you bought the tea, drank it, and did not feel symptoms, health officials are still urging you to stop drinking it.

Here are a few symptoms:

  • sensory abnormalities

    • numbness or tingling of the face, mouth or limbs
    • weakness in the limbs
    • paralysis
  • cardiovascular abnormalities

    • dangerously low blood pressure
    • palpitations
    • chest pain
    • slow or fast heart beat
    • irregular heartbeats that can lead to sudden death
  • gastrointestinal abnormalities

    • nausea, vomiting
    • abdominal pain
    • diarrhea

There is no antidote for the poison, officials said.

Aconite is commonly called monkshood, helmet flower, wolfsbane, chuanwu, caowu, and fuzi. It is used in Asian herbal medicine to treat pains, bruises, and other conditions.

“Raw Aconite roots, leaves and flowers are generally toxic but are used only after adequate processing,” officials said.