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San Francisco Tea With Aconite Toxin Hospitalizes Two People

Image: San Francisco Tea With Aconite Toxin Hospitalizes Two People
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By    |   Monday, 13 Mar 2017 08:21 AM

In San Francisco, tea containing aconite left two people hospitalized after they purchased herbal tea in separate incidents in February and March.

Health officials said a woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s both became critically ill within an hour of drinking tea, made from leaves purchased at Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. in San Francisco's Chinatown, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

The officials told the Examiner that lab tests confirmed the aconite, a plant-based toxin, in the patients and their tea samples. Both developed life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms and had to be resuscitated, the newspaper noted.

"Anyone who has purchased tea from this location should not consume it and should throw it away immediately," Dr. Tomás Aragón, San Francisco's health officer, said in a statement, according to the Examiner. "Aconite poisoning attacks the heart and can be lethal."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that that aconite's raw flowers are highly toxic in its natural state, but can be safely consumed after being properly processed. It is known for treating pains, bruises and other conditions.

Aconite, which has been used in Asian herbal medicine for thousands of years, is also called monkshood, helmet flower, wolfsbane, chuanwu, caowu and fuzi, the Chronicle noted.

"In traditional Chinese medicine, aconite roots are used only after processing to reduce the toxic alkaloid content," according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.

"Soaking and boiling during processing or decoction preparation will hydrolyze aconite alkaloids into less toxic and non-toxic derivatives. However, the use of a larger-than-recommended dose and inadequate processing increases the risk of poisoning," the website continued.

The Associated Press reported that both people who became sick are still hospitalized. The Chronicle said their connection to the Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. became known after both cases were referred to the California Poison Control System at San Francisco General Hospital.

"The investigation is just starting, but we know that the tea in both instances came from the same place," Rachael Kagan, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, told the Chronicle. "And in each instance the person had drank the tea recently."

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In San Francisco, tea containing aconite left two people hospitalized after they purchased herbal tea in separate incidents in February and March.
san francisco, tea, aconite, hospitalized
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2017-21-13
Monday, 13 Mar 2017 08:21 AM
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