Home > Herbal Glossary > Chinese Herb List > Poria
>>Where Does It Grow?
>>Nature and Flavor
>>Identified Active Components / Major Chemical
>>Drug actions in TCM
>>Traditional Uses in TCM
>>Pharmacological Actions
>>Administration and Dosage
>>Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions
Latin Name: Poria
Common Name: Poria / Indian bread
Scientific Name: Poria cocos (Schw.) Wolf
Chinese Name: 茯苓
Pinyin Name: fu ling
This fungal herb is the dry sclerotium of Poria cocos (Schw.) Wolf of the Polyporaceae family, parasitized on the roots of pine trees. The herbs are prepared in many forms for applications, for example it may cut in thin or thick pieces, the pieces can be attached with pine root, only peelings, or peeled pieces in pink or white color.[1],[7]
Where Does It Grow?
Poria is mainly produced in Hubei, Anhui, Henan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces of China; Guangdong, Guandxi and Fujian provinces also supply. The herb has both wild and cultivated supplies. The cultivated supply is mainly from Anhui; the wild supply is mainly from Yunnan and is regarded as the best quality.[1],[5],[7]
Nature and Flavor
Poria is neutral in nature, sweet and bland in flavor, and mainly manifests its therapeutic actions in the heart, spleen and kidney meridians.[2]
Identified Active Components/ Major Chemical Constituents 
Poria contains polysaccharide compounds like β-pachyman and pachymaran; triterpenes such as pinicolic acid, pachymic acid, tumulosic acid, eburicoic acid, dehydroeburicoic acid, 7,9(11)-dehydropachymic acid, methyl pachymatic, β-amyrin acetate, dehydropachymic acid, ergosta-7,22-dien-3β-ol, trametenolic acid, poricoic acid A-D, G-H, AM, DM. Others are ergo-sterol, caprylic aid, undecanoic, lauric acid, dodecenoic acid, dodecenoate, gum, choline and minerals.[4],[5],[6]
Drug actions in TCM
Poria promotes urination, regulates fluid distribution, enhances spleen, and calms mind.[2]
Traditional Uses in TCM

Poria is mainly used for conditions like general swelling, urinary difficulty, dizziness, palpitations, low appetite, loose bowels, diarrhea, a restless mind, panic attack and insomnia.[2],[3]

  • Poria promotes urination
    For body fluid retention problems, poria is the usual ingredient. For example fluid retention in the bladder, proia can work with polyporus, largehead atractylodes rhizome and oriental water-plantain rhizome to resume the normal functioning of the bladder; a representative formula for this is the Five Ingredients Powder with Poria (wu ling san). Yin deficiency accompanied with urinary difficulty and swelling, poria can work with talc, donkey-hide gelatin and oriental water-plantain rhizome to promote body fluid redistribution, clear heat, nourish yin and promote urination; a representative formula for this is Polyporus Powder (zhu ling san). Yang deficiencies of spleen and kidney will lead to general swelling too, which can be treated by poria with aconite root and fresh ginger; a representative formula for this is the True Warrior Decoction (zhen wu tang).
  • Poria enhances spleen and stomach
    For spleen and stomach deficiencies that lead to low appetite, fatigue and general weakness, poria can works with ginseng, largehead atractylodes rhizome and liquorice root; a representative formula is the Four-gentlemen Decoction (si jun zi tang). Spleen deficiency can also lead to puffiness, then poria can work with largehead atractylodes rhizome, cassia twig and liquorice root to promote spleen functioning and meridian circulation. Spleen deficiency leads to chronic diarrhea, poria can work with Chinese yam, largehead atractylodes rhizome and coix seed; a representative formula for this is the Powder of Ginseng, Poria & Atractylodes (shen ling bai shu san). Disorder in fluid metabolism tends to generate phlegm and retained fluid, when these pathologic products disturbing the stomach, vomiting will result, then poria can work with pinellia tuber and fresh ginger for relief. Phlegm and retained fluid accumulated in the upper body, individuals may have chest stuffiness and palpitations, which can be treated with proia along with bitter apricot seed, cassia twig, largehead atractylodes rhizome, and liquorice root.
  • Poria calms down the mind
    Deficiencies of the heart and spleen lead to a restless mind, poor sleep, and forgetfulness, which can be treated by poria along with astragalus root, angelica root and polygala root; a representative formula for this is the Restore the Spleen Decoction (gui pi tang). Body fluid disturbances affecting the heart will present in palpitation, breath shortness and swelling, it is indicated to use poria along with cassia twig, largehead atractylodes rhizome, and liquorice root; a representative formula for this is the Poria and Liquorice Decoction. In case if individuals also have phlegm obstruction, that accompany with limb coldness, chest stuffiness, excess throat secretions, nausea, poor appetite and a greasy white coating on the tongue, herbs like pinellia tuber and husked sorghum are added in the remedy.

    Modern TCM also use poria for chronic schizophrenia, coughing, enteritis, hepatitis, and alopecia areata. Poria is an important ingredient for a wide range of Chinese patent medicines, dietary supplements and functional foods too.
Pharmacological Actions

Studies showed that poria has effects in regulating digestive functions, boosting immunity, promoting urination, tranquilizing, protecting liver, improving kidney functioning, lowering blood sugar, arresting vomiting, anti-bacteria, anti-inflammation, anti-tumor, anti-aging, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, anti-hemolysis, anti-radiation and promoting melanocyte cell proliferation.[4],[5]

Administration and Dosage

Taking orally, poria is suggested for 9〜15g, or even higher to 15〜60g in decoction, powder, pill and medicinal wine preparations.[4]

Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions
Clinical demonstrations show that it is safe to take poria orally within the suggested dosage; there is no adverse response even for large dose (below 60g) or long-term consumption.[4]

1. Li Jiashi (editor-in-chief), Chinese Medicine Identification, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, 2000-2.
2. Lui Daiquan (editor-in-chief), Chinese Herbal Medicine, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, 2000-6.
3. Tao Yufeng, Clinical Herbal Medicine, People¡¦s Medical Publishing House, 2005-5.
4. Chen Pian, Clinical Application of Tonifying Herbs, Second Military Medical University Press, 2008-8.
5. Zhao Zhongzhen & Xiao Peigen (editor-in-chief), Contemporary Medicinal Herbal Glossary, Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine, 2006-8.
6. http://www.zysj.com.cn/zhongyaocai/yaocai_f/fuling.html
7. http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E8%8C%AF%E8%8B%93