One Of Two People Poisoned By Tea From Chinatown Herbalist Has Died

Sun Wing Wo Trading Company

Sun Wing Wo Trading Company

A woman is dead after drinking tea containing a lethal poison that she unwittingly bought from an herbalist in San Francisco's Chinatown, public health officials announced Monday. The patient requires resuscitations and had to be hospitalized for weeks.

Cardiovascular abnormalities such as low blood pressure, palpitations, chest pains, and slow, fast or irregular heartbeats that can lead to sudden death can also be experienced, health department officials said. A department of health spokeswoman said the man was treated and released after recovering from the illness brought on by the poisoning.

She died while hospitalized on March 18.

"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. Both people drank tea that was mixed in the store from several different ingredients, authorities said, adding that the shop was cooperating with the investigation.

"The Health Department's environmental health inspectors have removed the products consumed by the two patients from the shelves there", authorities said.

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The two victims purchased the tea from Sun Wing Wo Trading Company at 1105 Grant Ave.in separate incidents in February and March.

Health officials are working to find the original source of the tea leaves, and they are warning others to stop consuming it.

While aconite has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years, its flowers are highly toxic, the Chronicle said. Commonly called monkshood, Wolf's bane, helmet flower, "chuanwu", "fuzi", and "caowu", the plant is used in Asian herbal medicine to treat bruises, pain and other conditions. The poison attacks the heart, making it lethal. According to health officials, there is no antidote for aconite poisoning.

It is unclear how the poisonous plant got mixed up with the tea leaves, Kagan said.

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