Congressman’s wife died after taking herbal treatment: report

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The wife of a California congressman died last year after taking herbal treatments to fight obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol, a report has revealed.

Lori McClintock, wife of Rep. Tom McClintock, died of dehydration caused by “adverse effects of ingesting white mulberry leaves,” according to an autopsy report from Kaiser Health News.

KHN received a copy of McClintock’s autopsy eight months after she was found unresponsive at her home in Elk Grove, Calif.

Lori McClintock died with a “partially intact” white mulberry leaf in her stomach.
AP/Nick Ut

The congressman spotted his wife on Dec. 15, 2021 after returning from Washington, DC, where he voted in Congress the night before.

McClintock had been suffering from gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the stomach and intestines, at the time of her death, which the Sacramento County coroner ruled in March as an accident.

White mulberry leaves are often used to combat cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and more, as well as to prevent weight gain.

State Senator Tom McClintock, the Republican nominee for the 4th congressional district, and his wife Lori, left, smile as they watch the election results be released at his election night party in Roseville, Calif. Tuesday November 4, 2008.
Tom found Lori unresponsive at her house last December.
AP/Rich Pedroncelli

But the herb can also cause diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, gas, and constipation.

“The leaves and other parts of the tree contain a milky-white sap called latex, which is mildly toxic to humans and if ingested can cause symptoms such as stomach upset or skin irritation when touched,” explains Healthline.

The coroner didn’t reveal how McClintock ingested the herb — whether in a dietary supplement or drank in a tea — but did say a “partially intact” white mulberry leaf was found in her stomach, KHN said.

Daniel Fabricant, CEO and president of the Natural Products Association, which represents the dietary supplement industry, told KHN that tying McClintock’s death to an herbal treatment would be “completely speculative.”

“There’s a science to that. It’s not just what a coroner feels,” said Fabricant, who served as the FDA’s dietary supplement supervisor during the Obama administration. “Unfortunately, dehydration happens to people every day, and there are many different reasons and many different causes.”

McClintock, who had been married to the congressman since 1987, was practicing real estate in California at the time of her death, according to the LA Times. She was 61.



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