Two people critically ill after drinking toxic herbal tea

Two people became critically ill after drinking herbal tea that was purchased at a San Francisco Chinatown store, officials with the San Francisco Public Health Department said Friday.

Tea leaves purchased at the Sun Wing Wo Trading Company on 1105 Grant Ave in the city contained a plant toxin called Aconite, which if not processed properly, can be poisonous, stated San Francisco's Department of Public Health Friday.

In two separate incidents that occurred in February and March, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s fell critically ill after drinking the tea requiring resuscitation and hospitalization within an hour after consumption.

Those who were affected quickly became weak, developed risky abnormal heart rhythms and needed resuscitation before being hospitalized.

Residents who drink tea are being warned that if they are suffering numbness in the mouth, face or limbs, or have chest pain or palpitations, or irregular heartbeats, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea to immediately seek medical attention.

"Both patients developed symptoms about an hour after consuming the tea", said Dr. Tomas Aragon, health officer for the city and county of San Francisco. The department also said that they are working with the owner to source the location of the contaminated product to ensure the infected plant doesn't make it back on the shelves. There's no antidote to aconite poisoning, which can be fatal, according to CBS San Francisco.

"This Aconite poisoning which can come from Chinese herbal teas if not processed correctly it can affect the heart". Raw aconite roots are generally toxic but may used after adequate processing, health officials said. If you consume the tea and experience symptoms, call 911 or go immediately to the nearest hospital.

  • Joanne Flowers