Latin: Poria cocos
Chinese: Fu ling
WHAT IT DOES: Poria mushroom, actually the sclerotium (hardened mass enveloping the mushroom), is bland and sweet in taste, and neutral in action. It promotes fluid discharge and strengthens digestion.
SAFETY ISSUES: None known. Use cautiously in dehydrated patients.
• Dried powder: six to18 grams per day
• 4:1 concentrated dried decoction: one and-a-half to four and-a-half grams per day
Poria mushroom is commonly used in TCM because it is a gentle and safe aid for removing stagnant fluids (dampness) from the digestive system. In our clinical practice, perhaps as many as 40% of our patients have impaired or sluggish digestion, and many of them cannot tolerate strong herbs at first. Poria is an excellent choice in these cases, as it safely improves digestion. It is also used for urinary difficulty and edema. It can be used freely. Recently, studies have shown it to have immune system benefits similar to those of other medicinal mushrooms, though perhaps milder. The difficult to obtain inner part of the sclerotium found near the root is called poria spirit (fu shen), and is used to calm anxiety.
• Japanese scientists reported that Poria mushroom stimulated various immune system chemicals (interleukins and tumor necrosis factor), while suppressing a growth factor (Yu et al., 1996).
• It has also been shown to slow tumor growth in mice (Kaminaga T, et. al, 1996), and to prevent pathological changes to the kidneys of mice with nephritis (Hattori et al., 1992).
• The saponins found in poria mushroom possess a calming effect on digestion that proved strong enough to prevent vomiting in frogs who were given an emetic agent (Tai T et al., 1995).