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Herbs & Botanicals

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Poria (fu ling)

What is poria? What is it used for?

Poria is a type of fungus related to polyporus, which usually grows on pine trees. Although it can range in color from white to pale red, the typical color of poria is light brown, with striations on the outer skin.

It is relatively soft to the touch, odorless, and has slightly elastic properties. It is usually gathered from the tree, cut into pieces of various length, and dried in the shade before being used medicinally.

In traditional Chinese medicine, poria is considered to have either a sweet taste or no taste, and neutral properties. It is associated with the Heart, Spleen, Lung and Kidney meridians. Among its functions, poria expels dampness, invigorates the spleen, relaxes the mind and replenishes the middle jiao. It is often combined with other herbs to create larger formulas used to treat conditions ranging from dysuria and edema to insomnia.

Experiments conducted in China show that poria decoctions can inhibit the growth of a variety of bacteria, including s. aureus, bacillus coli, and bacillus proteus. It is also used to promote diuresis and treat loose stools or diarrhea.

How much poria should I take?

The typical recommended dose of poria is between 9 and 15 grams per day, usually powdered and taken with boiled water as a decoction.

What forms of poria are available?

Sliced, dried poria can be found at some herbal shops and Asian markets. Some stores also sell powdered poria for decoctions, along with poria capsules and tablets.

What can happen if I take too much poria? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Poria is considered extremely safe; the American Herbal Products Association has given polyporus, poria's closest relative, a class 1 safety rating. As of this writing, there are no known side-effects associated with long-term poria use. However, because it promotes diuresis, it should be taken with caution by patients taking antidiuretic medications. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking poria or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Cal CY, et al. Journal of Chinese Materia Medica 1984;15(2):61.
  • Guo XF, et al. Journal of Contemporary Chinese Medicine 1993;4(1):15
  • Li YQ. Practical Journal of Combining TCM and Western Medicine 1998;11(7):643.
  • Pan Q, et al. Journal of Yunnan College of TCM 1998;21(4):20-21.
  • Wang LW, et al. Journal of Chinese Materia Medica 1998;29(3):145-148.

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