THURSDAY, Aug. 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Lori McClintock, the wife of Northern California congressman Tom McClintock, died late last year after taking white mulberry leaf, an herb used to treat diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol, a recently released report shows.

The cause of death listed in the report was dehydration due to gastroenteritis caused by “adverse effects of white mulberry leaf ingestion,” a report from the Sacramento County coroner that is dated March 10 but was not immediately released to the public showed, CBS News reported. The document, along with an autopsy report and an amended death certificate containing an updated cause of death, was first released in July.

The Republican congressman first found his 61-year-old wife unresponsive in their California home on Dec. 15, 2021, after voting in Congress the night before and returning from Washington, D.C., CBS News reported. Although it was not clear how Lori McClintock consumed mulberry leaf — as a dietary supplement, as fresh or dried leaves, or in a tea — the report said a “partially intact” white mulberry leaf was found in her stomach.

But Daniel Fabricant, CEO and president of the Natural Products Association, which represents the dietary supplements industry, questioned the cause of death. “It’s completely speculative. There’s a science to this. It’s not just what a coroner feels,” Fabricant, who oversaw dietary supplements at the FDA during the Obama administration, told CBS News. “People unfortunately pass from dehydration every day, and there’s a lot of different reasons and a lot of different causes.” Fabricant noted that if the coroner or the family had reported her death to the FDA, the agency could have launched its own investigation.

No deaths from the white mulberry plant have been reported to poison control officials in the past 10 years, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, CBS News reported. And only 148 cases of white mulberry plant ingestion have been reported to poison control officials nationally since 2012, most involving accidental ingestion by children 12 years and under, Kaitlyn Brown, clinical managing director for the association, told CBS News. Only one case required medical follow-up, she added.

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