Two teenagers were hospitalized in serious condition Friday night after they and several others drank a tea possibly made from jimson weed, a toxic plant known to cause hallucinations, authorities said.
The five students at the New School for Child Development--a small private Van Nuys day school for students with emotional problems--complained to the school nurse of dizziness, disorientation, shortness of breath and other symptoms Friday afternoon, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Bob Collis said.
Nine students were evaluated by paramedics, said Tony Knight, a spokesman for the New School. Some of them said they drank a tea made from what they called "hell's bells," Collis said.
Three of the students were treated and released from local hospitals. But a boy and girl, both 17, were disoriented, hostile and hallucinating when admitted to Sherman Oaks Hospital and Health Center, hospital spokesman Larry Weinberg said. Both were in serious condition and were expected to spend the weekend in the intensive care unit, but Weinberg said doctors did not foresee permanent damage.
Although doctors couldn't say for sure, the symptoms were consistent with the ingestion of jimson weed, also known as stinkweed and locoweed, Weinberg said. It is unclear when the students drank the tea, but a Los Angeles police detective said they drank it with the expectation of getting high.
Jimson weed, a poisonous plant of the nightshade family with white, trumpetlike flowers, was used in some Native American rites of passage for its hallucinogenic qualities. In some cases, it can cause coma, seizures and death.