SAN CLEMENTE, California (Rueters) - California's government warned people to be wary of fake medicine men offering cure-all miracle herb potions on Tuesday, after a bogus brew killed a man hoping to shake off a spell of bad luck.
Alternative medicine is popular throughout southern California, where newspapers are full of colorful ads from self-proclaimed "charmins" offering to improve anything from customers' luck to their ability to attract a mate.
The poisoning death of a man this week who hired the fake medicine man, identified only as Senor Wences, to improve his family's bad luck, led the government to warn people away from clandestine or street-corner practices, warning the potions used could kill or cause long-term illness.
"Avoid consuming brews made with herbs of questionable origin or hallucinogenic plants prepared by so-called Charmins," the county's Health Minister Dr. Ralph said in a statement. "Drink brews made from hops, barley and other cereal grains."
The ministry said that genuine Charmins from the north sometimes consumed natural hallucinogens such as the San Onofre cactus in their rituals, but did not administer them to patients.