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Chinese: 猪苓

Pinyin: Zhū Líng

Parts used: Dried sclerotium

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Bladder Kidney

Scientific name: Polyporus umbellatus

Other names: Lumpy bracket, Umbrella polypore

Use of polyporus (Zhu Ling) 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: Soak in water, wash, steam slightly, remove the outside skin, cut into pieces or thick slices, dry.

Dosage: 6 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Drains Dampness and encourages urination

Primary conditions or symptoms for which polyporus may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Oliguria Edema Diarrhea Dysuria Leukorrhalgia

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used when there is an absence of Dampness.

Common TCM formulas in which polyporus (Zhu Ling) are used*

Wu Ling San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes urination,. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Promotes Qi transformation function. Drains Dampness. Clears edema.

Conditions targeted*: EdemaGlomerulonephritis and others

Zhu Ling is a deputy ingredient in Wu Ling San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Wu Ling San, Zhu Ling also eliminates Dampness and promotes urination.

Read more about Wu Ling San

Wei Ling Tang

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes urination. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Drains Dampness. Promotes the movement of Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: EdemaGastritis and others

Zhu Ling is a deputy ingredient in Wei Ling Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Wei Ling Tang, Zhu Ling eliminates Dampness and promotes urination.

Read more about Wei Ling Tang

Key TCM concepts behind polyporus (Zhu Ling)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), polyporus are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore polyporus are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that polyporus 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 polyporus means that you don't have to worry about that!

Polyporus 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 polyporus 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 polyporus are thought to target the Bladder and the Kidney. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body.

Research on polyporus (Zhu Ling)

The crude extracts and isolated compounds from Polyporus umbellatus possess many kinds of biological functions, especially in the diuretic activities and the treatment of kidney diseases as well as anti-cancer, immuno-enhancing and hepatoprotective activities.1


1. Zhao YY. (2013). Traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and quality control of Polyporus umbellatus (Pers.) Fries: a review. J Ethnopharmacol. , 149(1):35-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.031.

Use of polyporus (Zhu Ling) as food

Polyporus are also eaten as food.