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4 Youths Poisoned by Jimson Weed Tea

May 14, 1993|STACY WONG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ORANGE — Three teen-agers lost consciousness and another suffered spasms Thursday morning after they tried to get high by drinking a tea made with jimson weed, a poisonous plant, police said.

The youths, ages 15 to 17, were taken to hospitals and are expected to recover. One remains in intensive care.

Poison control officials said several dozen Southern California teen-agers become ill each year after smoking, drinking or eating parts of the jimson weed, a member of the poisonous nightshade family. Although no fatalities have been recorded, ingesting the plant can cause seizures and severe nerve and muscle damage if a person does not receive prompt medical attention.

"We have not had any patients die from it, but the potential is there," said Kathy Karlheim, assistant director of the Regional Poison Center at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange.

Helen Burke, whose 17-year-old son, Travis, is in intensive care after drinking the tea, warned other parents to get rid of the plant if it grows near their homes or if they see their children bring it home.

Burke said the four teen-agers apparently brewed a pot of the jimson weed tea at her house sometime after midnight.

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