Poria

Poria (Fu Ling)

Botanical Name: Wolfiporia extensa, Sclerotium poriae cocos

Poria is a type of mushroom with a long and respected history in China. It is considered one of the premier Yin tonic herbs. Next to Licorice it is the most frequently used herb in Chinese herbalism. It is used to cook with and it is also used as a medicinal herb to boost immune function, calm anxiety, and support sleep. It also has antitumor properties.

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Poria (Fu Ling)

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Western

Western Name: Poria

Also Known As: China Root, Chinese Tuckahoe, Hoelen

Organs/Systems: Stomach, Nerves, Intestines, Joints

Key Actions: Diuretic, Antibacterial, Sedative, Anti-inflammatory, Antitumor, Antioxidant, Antifungal

Medicinal Uses: Urinary retention, anxiety, insomnia, cancer, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, immune health, skin disorders, ringworm.

Eastern

Pin Yin: Fu Ling

Also Known As: Fu Shen, Matsuhodo

Meridians: Lung, Liver, Heart

Key Actions: Eliminates Dampness, Tonifies the Heart, Tonifies the Spleen, Calms Shen, Yin Tonic, Qi (Energy) Tonic, Soothes the Lungs

Medicinal Uses: Anorexia, poor appetite, loose stools, palpitations, insomnia, amnesia, edema, promotes urination, dizziness, anxiety, fatigue, blood sugar regulation, nervousness, fluid retention, diarrhea, tumors, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, cancer, stomach disorders, coughs, congestion, support immune function, diabetes, ringing in the ears, chronic kidney inflammation, lowers serum cholesterol, nausea, vomiting, diabetes, kidney infections, urinary retention, contact dermatitis, fibroids, ringworm, yeast infections, recovery from long illness.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Poria is a fungus in the Polyporaceae family. The common form of poria fungus is its sclerotium, which is an irregularly shaped chunk, sphere, compressiform, that can be oblong or oval. The skin is grayish brown or dark brown with a white insides composed of numerous hyphae. Fruiting bodies look like mushrooms or coconuts.

Poria is most often associated with Yunnan Province in China, where the highest quality mushrooms are said to be cultivated. It is a white fungus that grows on wood, found particularly growing on Japanese red pine and Masson pine (Pinaceae family), but also fir trees.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Whole fruit or sclerotium (looks like a mushroom)

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Bland, Neutral

Caution: Considered safe, however, Poria is not recommended in large doses for daily long term use.

Key Constituents: Triterpenoids, Polysaccharides, Ergosterol, Caprylic acid, Undecanoic acid, Lauric acid, Histamines, Glucose, Sterols, Enzymes, Fatty acids, and other Elements

History/Folklore: Poria was once used to make a variety of delicacies and snacks for members of the royal family. The fungus has an especially long history of use in Southern China where it was ground into a powder and used daily. In China it is an important herb for treating edema and signs of dampness in the body. It is one of the most commonly prescribed herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Often used as a tonic to boost immune function.

Poria is considered an excellent Yin tonic, it is therefore often used as a good balancing agent to Yang tonic herbs such as ginseng. The ancients of China said that Fu Ling (Poria), “Restores and refreshes the body and mind, and if used regularly it will prolong life.”

It is used in China as both a medicinal herb and as a food in traditional cooking. The part used is the inner white part of the fungus mass, sometimes called Tuckahoe (not to be confused with Indian bread made from arrow arum. It is described as odorless. Poria has little nutritional value, providing some carbohydrate, but no protein value. The Chinese also use proia flour to make cakes and bread called Fu Ling Jia Bing, or Tuckahoe Pie, a popular traditional snack food of Beijing.

Due to the plant’s high fiber content it is cut into thin slices for making decoctions and teas. Generally 9-30 g is recommended for a daily dose, with up to 60 g being prescribed for treating schizophrenia for a daily dose given for 1-3 months. Poria has very low toxicity.

Poria is considered to benefit the Triple Warmer (San Jiao) which plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the internal organs. The Triple Warmer (San Jiao) regulates the production of energy from food and air as well as the elimination of wastes.

Poria is helpful in regulating blood sugar. It is a perfect herb for anyone getting over a long or debilitating illness as it tonifies the Spleen, helping to build both Qi and Blood (Xue).

Mainly cultivated today in China. The species grown in Yunnan Province, called “Yun Ling”, is considered the best quality. It grows on the roots of fir trees.

The name Hoelen, derived from an original Dutch designation, created by the Dutch botanist Georg E. Rumphius, who gave it the botanical name, Pachyma hoelen. Hoelen is a Dutch surname, and Rumphius was honoring a friend. About a hundred years later, the American mycologist Frederick A. Wolf renamed it Poria cocos, in his major work on mushrooms. It’s name was again changed in the 1980’s to Wolfiporia cocos, then Wolfiporia extensa, and before that it has also been called Tuckahoe. Tuckahoe was used in early American literature as a generic reference to edible roots or the scerotial of edible mushrooms. In Florida, where tuckahoe (arrow arum) was commonly collected, it was often used by Native Americans as food, creating the name “Indian bread.”

In Chinese history, it was originally thought that Poria arose as a result of the transformation of pine resin. The saying was that after a thousand years the resin became Poria, after another thousand years it became Fu Shen (the part of the fungus that grows around the root) and is famous for countering anxiety and calming the mind or spirit, another name it is often called, “Poria spirit.”), and after another thousand years it became amber (which does derive from pine resin), and after another thousand years it became crystal quartz.

Chi Fu Ling (which translates as, “the red Fu Ling”) is a completely different plant from Fu Ling. It is cold in nature, promotes urination, and treats Damp-Heat syndromes. It does not tonify the Spleen, nor calm the Mind the way Fu Ling does.

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Did you know?

Not True Tuckahoe

Do not confuse Chinese Tuckahoe (Poria) with true Tuckahoe (Arrow Arum, Peltandra virginica). Tuckahoe is used by Native Americans to make bread.

Facts

Solid and Heavy

Good quality poria is solid and heavy. The outer skin should have deep wrinkles and a lustrous reddish color.
Fun fact!

Widely Used Herb

Next to licorice, poria is the most widely used herb in Chinese herbalism.

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