Lori McClintock’s death cause is disputed

Lori McClintock’s death cause is disputed

Scientists, medical professionals, and pathologists disagree with the Sacramento County coroner’s determination that white mulberry, a plant that has long been used as a herbal cure and which the coroner’s botanical consultant deemed “not hazardous,” was to blame for Lori McClintock’s death.

According to a report from the Sacramento County coroner, McClintock, the wife of U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), passed away unexpectedly in December from dehydration brought on by gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which was brought on by “adverse effects of white mulberry leaf ingestion.” The death was declared an accident by the coroner.

However, Sacramento County Coroner Kimberly Gin has not explained — nor has she supplied documents that explain — how she came to the conclusion that white mulberry leaf was the cause of the dehydration that killed McClintock at age 61, which has led to suspicion among a number of specialists.

According to the autopsy report, a “half intact” white mulberry leaf was discovered in Lori McClintock’s stomach. The coroner’s office has published records related to the case, but they make no additional mention of her usage of white mulberry supplements, extracts, powders, leaves, or any other way to consume the plant.

“It would literally require bushel baskets’ worth of white mulberry leaves to have any kind of negative impact. Even then, nothing dangerous is visible.”

According to Bill Gurley, the National Center for Natural Goods Research at the University of Mississippi works with academic, governmental, and business leaders to conduct research and produce natural products.

White mulberry leaf has been used to treat a number of illnesses, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

According to Gurley, a specialist in herb and medicine interactions, “its track record for safety is unrivalled.”

He remarked, “I’m simply wondering how on earth they could come to the conclusion that this woman died by consuming, as least as far as we know, just one mulberry leaf.

The coroner’s conclusion is “not convincing,” according to Dr. Mary Hardy, who established the integrative medicine clinic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and conducted research on the efficacy of a few complementary and alternative therapies for the since-closed UCLA Center for Dietary Supplements Research in Botanicals.

The documents at hand, according to Hardy, “do not support the proximate cause of death.”

Gin, who was reached via Sacramento County spokeswoman Kim Nava, has consistently rebuffed KHN’s requests for interviews and has failed to disclose details about how her agency came to the conclusion that a portion of a white mulberry leaf was responsible for McClintock’s death.

Traditional Chinese medicine has employed the fruit and leaves of the white mulberry tree for many years.

The extract from its leaves has been shown in scholarly research to reduce blood sugar levels and aid in weight reduction. People consume it as an extract or powder, in tablet or capsule form. Young leaves may also be consumed raw or made into a herbal tea.

It is unknown where McClintock obtained the white mulberry leaf and how she consumed it (whether she consumed it raw or brewed a tea).

According to the coroner’s findings, Republican Tom McClintock discovered his wife motionless at their Elk Grove, California, home on December 15, 2021. McClintock represents a district that crosses many counties in central and northern California. Several inquiries for comment have gone unanswered from him.

Tom McClintock informed mourners at his wife’s funeral in January that she was OK when he talked to her the day before she passed away. However, the coroner’s report states that the day before she passed away, “she complained of an unsettled stomach.”

Additionally, McClintock informed the mourners that “she recently joined a gym” and that “she was carefully dieting.”

In addition to the autopsy report and death certificate, KHN also acquired the coroner’s report, dated March 10, in July. In August, KHN publicised the results.

The corpse of McClintock was examined by the coroner’s office for signs of the flu, other respiratory infections, and covid-19. None were found.

According to five pathologists contacted by KHN, it also paid for independent lab testing that revealed McClintock had increased levels of urea nitrogen, salt, and creatinine in his body, all of which are indicators of dehydration.

Only one of them thought that a white mulberry leaf’s potential role in the dehydration was credible.

All of the pathologists agreed that the coroner’s documents, which were made publicly available, did not fully explain how McClintock died and omitted important information, such as what the coroner’s office discovered at the residence and whether or not McClintock may have been taking any medications or dietary supplements.

“It is true that there are signs of possible dehydration. They really don’t have much else to do, “said Dr. Gregory G. Davis, chief coroner-medical examiner for Jefferson County, Alabama, and head of the forensic section of the Department of Pathology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

As other specialists have noted, mulberry leaf is not thought to be harmful, therefore Davis added, “I don’t know if mulberry leaf necessarily had any part in the death.”

“Looking at the findings of her autopsy, it seemed that she was in generally good condition, therefore it would have been surprising if she had passed away at this time. As a result, the case is already challenging since it is not clear.”

It might take days for someone to die from dehydration, said Dr. James Gill, chief medical examiner of Connecticut and leader of the College of American Pathologists’ Forensic Pathology Committee.

One leaf by itself would not “have contributed to death,” according to him, since it had not yet gone through the whole digestive process, which generally only takes a few hours.

According to Gill, it takes at least a week or so for someone to pass away from dehydration after not drinking. “There are certain things that really don’t fit,” according to the documents that are accessible.

According to Gill, he would have concluded that McClintock died naturally of unexplained reasons, which occurs in roughly 5% of his examinations into fatalities.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers states that no white mulberry-related fatalities have been reported to them in the last ten years.

According to the FDA’s database that records “adverse events,” two instances of patients who may have been harmed by mulberry supplements have been reported to the agency since 2002.

Lindsay Haake, a representative for the FDA, refused to confirm if the organisation is looking into the situation since investigations are not made public.

Following KHN’s reporting on McClintock’s death, the coroner’s office made a few more records public, including a letter dated December 29, 2021 from Alison Colwell, curator of the University of California-Davis Center for Plant Diversity.

The 1 1/8-inch by 1 7/8-inch leaf piece that was discovered in McClintock’s stomach during the examination had to be identified, the coroner had asked Colwell.

Colwell recognised it as a white mulberry and reasoned that it “was probably consumed while fresh” based on its elasticity and “some green tint,” according to her letter.

She pointed out that while white mulberry trees are widespread in the Sacramento area, their leaves are “tough, withering, and have largely fallen off of the trees” in December.

Additionally, Colwell only stated: “White mulberry is not harmful.”

In her letter, the author claimed that she had “referenced the specimen to lethally poisonous plants that are known to be planted or are natural in the Sacramento region and found no similarities.” Colwell denied a request for an interview.

The idea that McClintock may have passed away after taking dietary supplements containing white mulberry leaf, much alone a white mulberry leaf itself, has incensed the herbal goods business, the dietary supplement industry, and their friends.

Rick Kingston, a clinical professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, stated, “It’s been used as a meal, utilised as a medication.”

He is also a co-founder of SafetyCall International, a business that assists customers and the dietary supplement industry in logging and monitoring adverse occurrences connected to their products.

Kingston was asked to examine McClintock’s case by the American Herbal Products Association, which is a group that advocates for makers and farmers of herbal products.

Kingston remarked, “I see a lot of autopsy reports. I must concede that the supporting evidence for this was somewhat scant.

Many botanical experts also doubt that the leaf discovered in McClintock’s stomach was a white mulberry leaf. Colwell’s letter lacks information about her evaluation of the leaf that would enable others reading the report to unambiguously identify it as white mulberry, according to Élan Sudberg, CEO of California-based Alkemist Labs, which tests botanical plants for the supplements industry and other clients. That or the leaf wasn’t made of white mulberry, he claimed.

He argued that the coroner need to reexamine the case, provide additional details, and carry out more thorough investigations.

Sudberg said, “I’d want to see a reexamination and understand why they came to the conclusion that she died from a mostly inert leaf.

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