Wednesday, August 24, 2022 (Kaiser News) — SACRAMENTO, Calif. The wife of a Northern California congressman died late this past year after ingesting a plant that’s generally considered safe and can be used being an herbal fix for a number of ailments, including diabetes, obesity, and raised chlesterol, KHN has learned.
Lori McClintock, the wife of U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, died from dehydration because of gastroenteritis an inflammation of the intestines and stomach that was due to undesireable effects of white mulberry leaf ingestion, in accordance with a written report from the Sacramento County coroner that’s dated March 10 but had not been immediately released to the general public. KHN obtained that report as well as the autopsy report and an amended death certificate containing an updated reason behind death in July.
The coroners office ruled her death a major accident. The initial death certificate, dated Dec. 20, 2021, listed the reason for death as pending.
Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents an area that spans multiple counties in northern and central California, found his 61-year-old wife unresponsive at their Elk Grove, California, home on Dec. 15, 2021, based on the coroners report. He previously just returned from Washington, D.C., after voting in Congress the night time before.
Its unclear from the autopsy report whether Lori McClintock took a supplement containing white mulberry leaf, ate fresh or dried leaves, or drank them in a tea, but a partially intact white mulberry leaf was within her stomach, based on the report.
McClintocks death underscores the risks of the vast, booming market of health supplements and herbal treatments, that have grown right into a $54 billion industry in the usa one which both lawmakers and healthcare experts say needs more government scrutiny.
Lots of people assume if that product comes in america of America, somebody has inspected it, also it should be safe. Unfortunately, thats not necessarily true, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said on the Senate floor this spring when he introduced legislation to strengthen oversight of health supplements.
Daniel Fabricant, CEO and president of the NATURAL BASIC PRODUCTS Association, which represents the health supplements industry, questioned whether McClintocks death was linked to a supplement.
Its completely speculative. Theres a science to the. Its not only just what a coroner feels, said Fabricant, who oversaw health supplements at the FDA through the National government. People unfortunately pass from dehydration each day, and theres plenty of different reasons and lots of different causes.
Fabricant said it could have already been ideal had the coroner or the household reported her death to the FDA therefore the agency may have launched a study.
Such reports are voluntary, and its own not yet determined whether anyone reported her death to the agency. FDA spokesperson Courtney Rhodes said the agency will not discuss possible or ongoing investigations.
The FDA, Fabricant added, includes a system set up to research deaths that could be associated with a supplement or drug. Its casework, he said. Its good, old-fashioned police work that should be done.
Tom McClintock has remained mostly silent about his wifes death since he released a statement on Dec. 19, 2021, announcing it and gave a tribute to her at her Jan. 4 funeral. As yet, the reason for death was not reported.
Tom McClintock, contacted multiple times by phone and email Wednesday, had not been immediately designed for comment.
At his wifes funeral, McClintock told mourners that she was fine when he spoke with her your day before he returned. She had told a pal that she was on a roll at a fresh job she loved in a Sacramento property office, he said, and she was carefully dieting.
She just joined a gym, he said. In the home, she was counting down the times to Christmas, wrapping all of the gifts and making all of the plans to create it the very best family Christmas ever, also it could have been.
Based on the coroners report, however, your day before her death, she had complaints of an upset stomach.
Sacramento County spokesperson Kim Nava said via email Wednesday that regulations prohibits the coroners office from discussing many information on specific cases. Within any death investigation, any office attempts to find and review medical records and talk with family/witnesses to determine events before and surrounding a death, she said.
If any medications or supplements are located at the scene or if pertinent information is in the persons medical records, those are passed along to the pathologist to greatly help establish reason behind death, Nava said.
Any information any office obtains from medical records cant be disseminated to an authorized except by court order, she said.
The leaves and fruit of the white mulberry tree, that is native to China, have already been useful for centuries in traditional medicine. Academic studies in the last decade have discovered that the extract from its leaves can lower blood sugar and help with weight reduction. People go on it in capsule or pill form, being an extract or powder. They are able to also brew the leaves being an herbal tea.
Lori McClintocks reaction seems unusual. No deaths from the white mulberry plant have already been reported to poison control officials previously 10 years, based on the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Since 2012, 148 cases of white mulberry plant ingestion were voluntarily reported to poison control officials nationally, most involving accidental ingestion by children 12 and under, said Kaitlyn Brown, clinical managing director for the association. Only 1 case required medical follow-up, she said.
While poison control centers track exposures to the white mulberry plant, the FDA oversees health supplements, such as for example products which contain white mulberry leaf extract. Since 2004, two cases of individuals sickened by mulberry supplements have already been reported to the FDA, in accordance with its database that tracks adverse events. It relies heavily on voluntary reports from healthcare professionals and consumers. A minumum of one of these cases resulted in hospitalization.
White mulberry leaf might have unwanted effects, including nausea and diarrhea, in accordance with research. Independent tests ordered by the coroners office showed McClintocks body had elevated degrees of nitrogen, sodium, and creatinine all signs of dehydration, in accordance with three pathologists who reviewed the coroners documents, which KHN redacted to eliminate McClintocks name.
White mulberry leaves do have a tendency to cause dehydration, and section of the uses for which can be to greatly help someone shed weight, mostly through fluid loss, which in cases like this was just sort of excessive, said Dr. DMichelle DuPre, a retired forensic pathologist and a former medical examiner in SC who reviewed the documents.
Health supplements, which include an easy selection of vitamins, herbs, and minerals, are regulated by the FDA. However, they’re classified as food and dont undergo the rigorous scientific and safety testing the federal government requires of prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines.
Lawmakers arent proposing to place supplements in to the same category as pharmaceuticals, however, many say they’re alarmed that neither the FDA nor the knows just how many health supplements are on the market making it extremely difficult for the federal government to oversee them and punish bad actors.
The FDA estimates 40,000 to 80,000 supplement products are out there in the U.S., and industry surveys estimate 80% of Americans utilize them.
Legislation by Durbin and U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) would require manufacturers to join up with the FDA and offer a public set of ingredients within their products, two provisions which are backed by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, another industry group that represents supplement makers.
However the council is lobbying against a provision that could require supplement makers to supply consumers with the ingredient amounts or the blend within their products, something they state is comparable to giving a recipe to competitors. Thats proprietary information only government regulators must have usage of, said Megan Olsen, the groups senior vice president and general counsel.
Olsen explained that supplement manufacturers are regulated exactly like other food companies and so are at the mercy of strict labeling requirements and inspections by the FDA. In addition they must inform the agency about any undesireable effects reported by consumers or doctors.
Companies are testing products through the entire process, are reviewing how theyre being manufactured and whats entering them, Olsen said. All that is overseen and dictated by FDA regulation.
The supplement provisions were rolled right into a larger Senate health committee bill that reauthorizes FDA programs, and senators are in negotiations with the home of Representatives. The NATURAL BASIC PRODUCTS Association opposes all the supplement provisions.
Because dietary pills, teas, along with other supplements are regulated as foods, manufacturers cant advertise them as treatments or cures for medical issues. But they could make claims about how exactly the supplements affect your body. So somebody who wants to shed weight or obtain diabetes in order might grab a bottle of white mulberry leaf extract because some supplement makers advertise it as an all natural remedy that may lower blood sugar and promote weight reduction.
Those forms of claims are attractive to Americans and also have been especially potent through the pandemic, as people sought to improve their immune systems and fight covid-19, said Debbie Petitpain, a registered dietician nutritionist and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But health supplements could be dangerous and dont affect everyone exactly the same way. Mixing supplements and prescription medicines can compound the issue, based on the FDA.
I believe many people are planning, Oh, its a plant. Or, Oh, its only a vitamin. Certainly, which means that its not likely to hurt me, Petitpain said. But theres always a risk when planning on taking anything.
Its not yet determined why Lori McClintock was taking white mulberry leaf. Family and friends who gathered on her behalf funeral described a captivating, happy woman who loved her family and her work and already had wrapped Christmas presents beneath the tree in mid-December. She was likely to purchase a recreational vehicle with her husband in retirement.
We grieve losing because of everything she was looking towards doing and all of the years yet ahead, Tom McClintock told mourners. And we grieve for another thing, because weve all lost a genuinely good person inside our lives.
This story was made by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California HEALTHCARE Foundation.