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Posted March 11, 2017

Two Hospitalized After Drinking Herbal Tea With Aconite

On March 11, 2017 the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced that two people became ill and required intensive hospital care after consuming tea made from tea leaves purchased from Sun Wing Wo Trading Company in San Francisco. The tea contains the herb aconite, which can be dangerous if not properly processed to remove toxic alkaloids.

According to a report by CBS News in San Francisco, a woman in her 50's and a man in his 30's were each experienced weakness and life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms requiring resuscitation within one hour of drinking the tea. The incidents occurred in February and March 2017. 

San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Thomas Aragon, MD warned in the CBS report: "Anyone who purchased tea from this location should not consume it and should throw it away immediately. Aconite poisoning attacks the heart and can be lethal." 

Aconite, also called monkshood, wolf's bane, leopard's bane, mousebane, women's bane or blue rocket, is used in numerous Chinese herbal formulas and homeopathic remedies. It is highly toxic if not properly processed. In traditional Chinese medicine, roots of the aconite plant are treated to reduce their toxicity before using; however, using larger-than-recommended doses and inadequate processing can increase the risk of poisoning. Symptoms of aconite poisoning include nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, numbness, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, chest pain and life-threatening arrhythmias (Chan, Clin Tax 2009).

In 2016, the American Heart Association warned that aconite was one of a number of herbs and supplements which can be especially dangerous in people with heart failure.

The tea has been removed from Sun Wing Wo Trading Company's store. Anyone who has purchased this tea should not consume it. 

To read the full report from CBS, use the link below.