Tea from Chinese Herbal Shop Lands Two SF Residents in Hospital

Tea from Chinese Herbal Shop Lands Two SF Residents in Hospital

The San Francisco Department of Public Health said that two patients are in critical condition after they have consumed tea they bought from an herbal shop on Grant Ave. in Chinatown, San Francisco.

Two Victims Landed in Hospital

The department said that a 50-year-old woman got sick from consuming the tea in February, and a man in his thirties was rushed to a hospital after sipping from the same concoction a month later. Both victims said they bought the tea from Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. in Chinatown.

In both cases, the patients were affected by weakness and life-threatening heart rhythms, which required hospitalization and resuscitation. Laboratory tests showed that tea samples contained a potent toxin dubbed aconite, which was also found in the victims’ systems.

The City’s health inspectors reportedly confiscated the contaminated tea from the herbalist. Public health authorities teamed up with the business owner to spot the source of the contamination. Health officer Dr. Tomás Aragón publicly warned Sun Wing Wo Trading customers not to drink any tea they bought from the shop and dispose any leftovers urgently.

Aragón explained aconite can trigger heart attacks and can prove fatal. In the Chinese medicine, the toxin is used in small doses to treat pains and bruises. The plant is also known as fuzi, wolfsbane, helmet flower, caowu, chuanwu, and monkshood. It has been used by Asian therapists for thousands of years, but the plant’s flowers, without proper processing, are extremely toxic. If they’re processed they can be safely consumed. Unfortunately, there is no antidote to aconite poisoning.

Aconite Poisoning’s Symptoms

Authorities said that people who consumed the products and did not develop any symptoms should stop consuming the products altogether. Customers who experience symptoms should immediately call 911 or go to a hospital. Aconite-poisoning symptoms include limb weakness, low blood pressure, nausea, abnormal heart rhythm, paralysis, numbness of the face or limbs, chest pain, and diarrhea.

Authorities learned the name of the herbal shop after the two cases were brought to the attention of the San Francisco General Hospital’s California Poison Control System. State authorities said the investigation is beginning, but they already know for sure the cause of the poisoning and the seller of the tea. Both patients reportedly had drunk the liquid recently.

A person at the Chinese herbal shop refused to reply to a request for comment.
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