Poria-cocos mushrooms

Chinese: 茯苓

Pinyin: Fú Líng

Parts used: Dried sclerotium

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Scientific name: Wolfiporia extensa

Other names: Hoelen, Poria, Tuckahoe, China root, Matsuhodo

Use of poria-cocos mushrooms (Fú Líng) 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 practitionner, 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: 10 to 15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which poria-cocos mushrooms may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Insomnia Oliguria Diarrhea Palpitations Restlessness

Contraindications*: Should not be used when there is frequent and copious urination when associated with a Cold Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which poria-cocos mushrooms are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind poria-cocos mushrooms' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), poria-cocos mushrooms 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 Damp that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Damp 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 poria-cocos mushrooms are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that poria-cocos mushrooms 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 poria-cocos mushrooms means that you don't have to worry about that!

Poria-cocos mushrooms also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like poria-cocos mushrooms 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 poria-cocos mushrooms are thought to target the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on poria-cocos mushrooms

Poria-cocos mushrooms is a key source of pachymic acid which may be useful to target endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and thus may represent a promising new framework in the treatment of currently incurable pancreatic cancer. 1.

Poria-cocos mushrooms capsules achieved obvious effects in the treatment of uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, dysmenorrheal, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, breast hyperplasia and other gynecological diseases.2.

Sources:

1. Cheng S, Swanson K, Eliaz I, McClintick JN, Sandusky GE, Sliva D (2015). "Pachymic acid inhibits growth and induces apoptosis of pancreatic cancer in vitro and in vivo by targeting ER stress"

2. Su ZZ, Li N, Cao L, Wang TJ, Zhang CF, Ding G, Wang ZZ, Xiao W. (2015). Main progress on studies of pharmacological activities and clinical applications of Guizhi Fuling capsule. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. , 40(6):989-92.

Use of poria-cocos mushrooms as food

Poria-cocos mushrooms are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Sweet poria cakes or Fuling tonic soup.