Aconite In Herbal Tea Sends Two To ER In San Francisco

Peter Will

Health authorities in San Francisco have warned against consuming herbal tea from a Chinatown shop after two people took critically ill.

San Francisco Department of Public Health advised against consuming tea from Sun Wing Wo at 1105 Grant avenue. The alert comes after two separate instances of a man and a woman developing acute symptoms of poisoning after consuming herbal tea bought from the store were reported. Lab tests revealed the tea contained aconite, a plant-based toxin known to cause fatalities.

"Aconite, or aconitine the poisonous alkaloid derived from it, has been known since antiquity. Indeed, Pliny the Elder recounts that it takes its name from Aconae, in the Black Sea, its supposed place of origin. Legend says that this was the place where Hercules dragged Cerebus, the three-headed dog that guarded Hades. As the dog drooled during the fight, poison fell on the plant that grew there, tainting it and making it poisonous forever."
"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."

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