The wife of a California congressman died last year after taking herbal treatments meant to combat obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol, a report found.
Lori McClintock, wife of Rep. Tom McClintock, died from dehydration caused by “adverse effects of white mulberry leaf ingestion,” according to an autopsy report obtained by Kaiser Health News.
KHN obtained a copy of McClintock’s autopsy eight months after she was found unresponsive in her Elk Grove, California home.
The congressman discovered his wife on Dec. 15, 2021 after returning from Washington, DC, where he had been voting in Congress the night prior.
McClintock had suffered from gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the stomach and intestines, at the time of her death, which the Sacramento County coroner ruled an accident in March.
White mulberry leaves are often used to fight cardiovascular disease, hypertension and more, as well as hinder weight gain.
But the herb can cause diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, bloating and constipation, as well.
“The leaves and other parts of the tree contain a milky white sap called latex, which is mildly toxic to humans and may result in symptoms like an upset stomach if ingested or skin irritation if touched,” Healthline states.
The coroner did not disclose how McClintock ingested the herb — whether in a dietary supplement or drank in a tea — but stated that 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 supplements industry, told KHN that it would be “completely speculative” to tie McClintock’s death to an herbal treatment.
“There’s a science to this. It’s not just what a coroner feels,” said Fabricant, who oversaw dietary supplements at the FDA during the Obama administration. “People unfortunately pass from dehydration every day, and there’s a lot of different reasons and a lot of 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.