Family of Woman Who Died After Drinking Herbal Tea From SF Chinatown Store Files Lawsuit

The tea leaves bought at Sun Wing Wo Trading Company, at 1105 Grant Avenue, contained the plant-based toxin Aconite

The family of a woman who died after drinking a toxic tea in San Francisco's Chinatown has filed a lawsuit against the herbal store who sold it.

In addition, the family is calling for more regulations in the industry.

Yu-Ping Xie, a 56-year-old San Francisco resident, died Saturday at a hospital where she had been since February after drinking the tea. Her devastated family want answers about where the ingredients came from and how they were prepared.

"She is a healthy lady and it was a horrible way for her to pass," said Jin Deng, Xie's son.

Deng said after drinking the tea, his mother became sick, had an abnormal heart rhythm, failing organs and needed intensive hospital care.

"The doctor basically told us there is nothing else they can do," Deng said. "We chose to let her go comfortably."

The tea leaves bought at Sun Wing Wo Trading Company, at 1105 Grant Avenue, contained the plant-based toxin Aconite, a lethal poison, the San Francisco Department of Public Health said.

A woman at Sun Wing Wo Trading Company declined to speak to NBC Bay Area on Thursday and held up a "NO COMMENT NO PICTURE NO INTERVIEW" sign.

Products consumed by Xie and another patient who recovered have been removed from the store.

The health department is cooperating with an investigation and trying to track down the source.

From the San Francisco Health Department:

People who have purchased and consumed the tea, and experienced no symptoms, are safe, but should not consume any more of it. If you consume the tea and experience symptoms, call 911 or go immediately to the nearest hospital.

Symptoms usually begin within a few minutes or up to a couple hours and can depend on the amount ingested. They can include:

Sensory abnormalities:

-- Numbness or tingling of the face, mouth or limbs

-- Weakness in the limbs

-- Paralysis

Cardiovascular abnormalities:

-- Dangerously low blood pressure

-- Palpitations

-- Chest pain

-- Slow or fast heart beat

-- Irregular heartbeats that can lead to sudden death

Gastrointestinal abnormalities

-- Nausea, vomiting

-- Abdominal pain

-- Diarrhea

There is no antidote for Aconite poisoning. Aconite is commonly called monkshood, helmet flower, wolfsbane, “chuanwu,” “caowu,” and “fuzi” and is used in Asian herbal medicine to treat pains, bruises and other conditions. Raw Aconite roots, leaves and flowers are generally toxic but are used only after adequate processing.

San Franciscans with questions can contact California Poison Control 1-800-222-1222 or www.calpoison.org.

Bay City News and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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