woman has died after drinking toxic herbal tea she bought in San Francisco’s Chinatown, one of two people sickened by the baneful brew, health officials said.
Yu-Ping Xie, 56, of San Francisco, died at a hospital in the city on Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, just over a week after city health officials warned consumers from buying the tea leaves at the Sun Wing Wo Trading Company at 1105 Grant Avenue.
In separate incidents, Xie and a man in his 30s became critically ill within an hour of drinking tea made from leaves containing aconite – a deadly poison – supplied by the same herbalist. Both victims became weak and suffered abnormal heart rhythms that required resuscitation. Aconite, a plant-based toxin, was later found in lab tests of the patients and provided tea samples, city health officials said.
The unidentified male victim has since recovered and is no longer hospitalized, spokeswoman Rachael Kagan told the Chronicle.
The city’s medical examiner will now determine an official cause and manner of death as health department officials work with the store’s owner to trace the source of the contaminated products.
“Anyone who has purchased tea from this location should not consume it and should throw it away immediately,” Dr. Tomas Aragon, the health officer for the city and county of San Francisco, said in a statement. “Aconite poisoning attacks the heart and can be fatal.”
Consumption of aconite – also known as monkshood, helmet flower, wolfsbane, chuanwu, caowu or fuzi – has long been used in Asian herbal medicine to treat pain, bruises and other conditions. The plant’s raw roots are generally toxic without being properly processed, producing symptoms nearly immediately, including numbness of the face, mouth or limbs, paralysis, vomiting, dangerously low blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms that can lead to sudden death.
There is no known antidote for aconite position, city health officials said.