Chinese Name : 茯苓
Latin Name : Poria Cocoa
This herb is the sclerotium of fungus Poria cocos (Schow) Wolf. of the family Polyporaceae, produced mainly in the Anhui and Yunnan provinces of China. Poria with a reddish inner surface are called red poria; those with a white inner side are called white poria. In the United States, P. cocos in America is dried, sliced, and used unprocessed.
The herb was medicinally considered to be peptic, nutrient, diuretic, and quieting, especially for the nervous disorders of children. It has been prescribed for wasting disease. The red variety was especially recommended for diarrhea and disorders of the bladder.
In modern times, poria is prescribed as a diuretic for dropsy and oliguria, a sedative for palpitations and insomnia, a stomachic to eliminate food stagnation, and an anti-inflammatory medicine for ulcers. It is also an antiaging medicinal herb.
Use of Poria in TCM
Sweet in taste, and neutral, it acts on the heart, spleen, and kidney meridians.
Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations
- Invigorates the spleen and replenishes the Middle-Jiao; to treat lassitude, anorexia, and loose stools, poria is prescribed with codonopsis, white atractylodes, and licorice, as in Si Jun Zi Tang (R-2). It is also used with licorice root, siler, schizonepeta, cnidium, white peony, ephedra, white atractylodes, cinnamon twig, rhubarb, and other herbs, as in Fang Feng Tong Sheng San (R-65), to treat food stagnation and constipation caused by slow metabolism.
- Replenishes deficiency of the spleen and the heart: to treat fright, palpitations, and insomnia, poria is combined with codonopsis, longanaril, and wild jujube seed, as in Gui Pi Tang (R-6).
- Induces diuresis: to treat dysuria, edema, phlegm retention, and othes symptoms caused by fluid retention, poria is mixed with alisma, polyporus, white atractylodes, and cinnamon twig, as in Wu Ling San (R-68).
- Relieves palpitations and promotes sleep: poria is belnded with polygala root and acorus, as in An Shen Zhi Wan, to treat imbalance in the functions of the heart and the kidneys.
- Ttranquilizing and sedative: to treat anxiety and insomnia, poria is dispensed with zizyphus, cnidium, licorice, and anemarrhena, as in Suan Zao Ren Tang (R-40).
- Replenishes deficiency of the spleen and expels Dampness: poria is combined with codonopsis and white atractylodes in a decoction to treat gastric and duodenal ulcers, indigestion, full stomach, and diarrhea.
In a decoction of 10 to 15 g.
Those with yin deficiency, polyuria caused by kidney deficiency, spermatorrhea, or prolapsed of urogenital organs should avoid this herb or use with caution.
Side Effects and Toxicity
No undesirable side effects or toxicity were reported at the therapeutic dose in classical Chinese material medica.
Poria contains a large amount of polysaccharides-B-pachman and several triterpene acids, including tetracyclic triterpenic acid, tumulosic acid, eburicoic acid, pachymic acid, and pinicolic acid. It also contains ergosterin, choline histidine, adenine, lecithin, alenine, ergosterol, choline fat, ergoglucose, lipase, and protease.
Poria is a sedative, diuretic, and a cardiac tonic. It has shown antitumor properties in mice.
- Intraperitoneal administration of 0.5 g/kg of the 25 percent alcoholic extract of the herb for five days was significantly diuretic in rabbits. The diuretic activity was comparable to that of 0.1 mg/kg of salyrgan by intramuscular administration.
- Intraperitoneal administration of the decoction decreased the activity of mice and reduced overexcitation induced by caffeine.
- Poria extract exerted a direct relaxant action on isolated rabbit intestines. It inhibited gastric ulcers in rats by polorus-ligation, and decreased gastric secretion and free acidity. The herb also protected rats against carbon tretrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity, reduced GPT activity, and prevented necrosis of
- Topical application of the methanol extract of poria significantly reduced the percentage of tumor-bearing mice and the number of tumors per mouse induced by DMBA plus 12-0- tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). The triterpene isolated from the herb significantly produced inhibition on TPA-induced inflammatory ear edema in mice.