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Family of SF Woman Who Died After Drinking Toxic Tea Sues Herbalist

Yi-Ping Xie came to the United States from China more than 13 years ago and worked several jobs at a time to support her family.  Yi-Ping died after she was taken to the California Pacific Medical Center’s Pacific campus.  Xie died after being poisoned by toxic tea that was prescribed to her by an herbalist in San Francisco.  Xie’s “family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. on Wednesday that seeks unspecified damages after Xie ingested the deadly blend of medicinal tea.” Xie was prescribed a specific blend of herbs by the owner of Sun Wing Wo Trading Co., Yui-Wun Chan.

According to her son, Deng, this was the first time Xie has ingested the traditional “Chinese herbal elixir since she…moved from Guangzhou, China, in 2003.” After drinking the tea, Xie fell ill and experienced abnormal heart rhythms and weakness.  Eventually, she had to seek medical attention and resuscitation.

This is not the first time someone had tea from this shop that later needed medical attention.  “A man in his 30s was hospitalized in a separate incident after apparently ingesting tea from the same herbalist,” San Francisco Department of Public Health officials said.  The man later recovered and released from the hospital.

The medical examiner is determining the exact cause of Xie’s death.  However, investigators with the department believe that the origin of the poison originates from aconite, a toxic flower found in the teas.  If aconite is properly prepared, it can have an anti-inflammatory effect, but if not, it can be deadly.  Aconite has “long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.”

The spokeswoman for the shop said that they “have been cooperating with the health department and we are waiting for the results of their investigation.”  Charles Kelly, the attorney that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Xie’s family, said, “The family wants justice…they feel that the Sun Wing Wo Trading Co. should be held responsible for selling contaminated herbs that killed their mother.”  Kelly hopes that in the future, herbalists, like Chan, are required to hold a certified license. 

Kelly continued, “This is a perfect time for the state to take a look and say, ‘Do we need to regulate this? These teas are not meant to be sipped recreationally. Mr. Chan prescribed these. He’s essentially trying to practice medicine.” 


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Family of SF Woman Who Died After Drinking Toxic Tea Sues Herbalist

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