Host-wood Poria (Fu Shen) in Chinese Medicine

Host-wood Poria

Chinese: 茯神

Pinyin: Fú Shén

Parts used: The part of the mushroom that is attached to the host-wood, dried

TCM category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Spleen Heart

Scientific name: Wolfiporia extensa

Other names: Poria Spirit

Use of host-wood poria (Fu Shen) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove the mushroom from the host-wood, soak in water, wash, steam slightly and remove the outside skin. Cut into thick slices and keep those from the part where the mushroom was attached to the host wood. Dry, ideally under the sun.

Dosage: 6 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Calms the Mind (Shen) and promote urination.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which host-wood poria may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Irritability Palpitations Insomnia

Common TCM formulas in which host-wood poria (Fu Shen) are used*

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Conditions targeted*: Nervous exhaustionMyasthenia gravis and others

Fu Shen is a deputy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Gui Pi Tang, Fu Shen works together with Jujube seeds (Suan Zao Ren), another deputy in this formula, to calm the Mind (Shen).

It also reinforces the Spleen-tonifying action of the four key herbs in this formula.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang

Sang Piao Xiao San

Source date: 1116 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Regulates and tonifies the Heart and Kidneys. Stabilizes the Essence. Stops leakage.

Conditions targeted*: Pediatric enuresisDiabetes and others

Fu Shen is an assistant ingredient in Sang Piao Xiao San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Sang Piao Xiao San, Fu Shen works together with Yuan Zhi (Chinese senega root) and Shi Chang Pu (Sweetflag rhizome) to calm the Spirit (Shen) and steady the Will.

It also facilitates communication between the Heart Qi and the Kidneys.

Read more about Sang Piao Xiao San

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Conditions targeted*: InsomniaHeadache and others

Fu Shen is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, Fu Shen calms the spirit and stabilizes the will. It is effective for restlessness and insomnia which are the typical symptoms of Liver Yang Rising.

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Source date: the Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin. Nourishes Blood. Calms the Liver. Extinguishes Wind.

Conditions targeted*: EncephalitisMeningitis and others

Fu Shen is an assistant ingredient in E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang, Fu Shen calms the Liver and the Mind

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Key TCM concepts behind host-wood poria (Fu Shen)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), host-wood poria are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit' category. These herbs are substances that tranquilize the Mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. They tend to have sedative properties by tonifying Heart Yin and Blood as in TCM it is believed that the Heart is the store of the Mind.

Furthermore host-wood poria are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that host-wood poria typically don't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of host-wood poria means that you don't have to worry about that!

Host-wood Poria also taste Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like host-wood poria tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such host-wood poria are thought to target the Spleen and the Heart. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality.