Poria Cocos fungus Fu Ling by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
January 20 2016

Poria cocos is a fungus widely used as a Chinese traditional herbal medicine for centuries. Poria Cocos is known in China as Fu LIng. Little western research has been done with this herb. See Chinese Herbs for a list of herbs used in Chinese Medicine. Historically Poria Cocos has been used as a sedative and diuretic.

Potential benefits of Poria Cocos fungus
Int J Biol Macromol. 2014. Biological activities and potential health benefits of polysaccharides from Poria cocos and their derivatives. Poria cocos has a long history of medicinal use in Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. It is a kind of edible and pharmaceutical mushroom. The chemical compositions of Poria cocos mainly include triterpenes, polysaccharides, steroids, amino acids, choline, histidine, etc. Great advances have been made in chemical and bioactive studies on Poria cocos polysaccharides (PCP) and their derivatives in recent decades. These PCP and their derivatives exhibit many beneficial biological activities including anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral activities. Therefore, PCP and their derivatives have great potential for further development as therapy or adjuvant therapy for cancer, immune-modulatory and antiviral drugs.

One lab study indicates poria cocos has anti-leukemia activity. Another shows poria cocos has anti-inflammatory activity that may be useful in inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis. Poria cocos hay have anti-tumor potential, for instance against sarcoma. Human studies in the West are lacking, therefore it is difficult to say what the clinical role of poria cocos is in human health and disease.

Int J Oncol. 2013 June. Triterpenes from Poria cocos suppress growth and invasiveness of pancreatic cancer cells through the downregulation of MMP-7.

What's in Poria Cocos fungus?
Numerous compounds are found in this fungus including triterpenes,  turmerone, ergosterol peroxide, polyporenic acid C, dehydropachymic acid, pachymic acid, tumulosic acid, heteropolysaccharides, and many others.

Rehmannia Endurance, 637 mg, 150 Tabs - With Poria Cocos
Planetary Formulas
Planetary Formulas Rehmannia Endurance is based on the classic Chinese tonifer Rehmannia Six: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, one of the most strengthening tonics of Chinese herbalism. Traditionally it was used for those who are tired and run down from overwork and inadequate rest due to a fast paced-lifestyle. There are other natural treatment options for fatigue symptoms.
Supplement Facts:
Rehmannia Root
Poria Cocos Sclerotium
Tree Peony Root Bark is a popular Chinese herb
Dioscorea Root
Alisma Rhizome
He Shou Wu Root Fo Ti root herb
Chrysanthemum Flower
Ligustrum Seed
Saw Palmetto Berry extract
Lycii Fruit Extract also known as wolfberry
Cornus Fruit

Poria Cocos studies
Antioxidant activities of some common ingredients of traditional chinese medicine, Angelica sinensis, Lycium barbarum and Poria cocos.
Phytother Res. 2004.
The antioxidant activities of three popular ingredients of traditional Chinese medicine, namely Angelica sinensis (AS), Lycium barbarum (LB) and Poria cocos were evaluated in this study. The results showed that aqueous extracts of these crude drugs exhibited antioxidant activities in a concentration-dependent manner. All extracts displayed an inhibitory effect on FeCl2-ascorbic acid induced lipid peroxidation in rat liver homogenate in vitro, with the order of activity LB > AS > Poria cocos. The present study concludes that LB extract possessed the strongest inhibition on malondialdehyde formation in rat liver homogenate, and superoxide anion scavenging and anti-superoxide formation activities. These results also suggest that LB extract is a good source of antioxidant agent in the daily dietary supplement.

Cytotoxicity and DNA topoisomerases inhibitory activity of constituents from the sclerotium of Poria cocos.
Arch Pharm Res. 2004.
The bioactivity-guided fractionation of the methylene chloride extract of the sclerotium of Poria cocos led to the isolation of (S)-(+)-turmerone (1), ergosterol peroxide (2), polyporenic acid C (3), dehydropachymic acid (4), pachymic acid (5), and tumulosic acid (6). Compounds 4-6 exhibited moderate cytotoxicities, with IC50 values of 20.5, 29.1, and 10.4 microM, respectively, against a human colon carcinoma cell line. However, 3-6 not only showed inhibitory activities as potent as etoposide used as a positive control on DNA topoisomerase II (36, 36, 43 and 66% inhibition at a concentration of 20 microM, respectively), but also inhibition of DNA topoisomerase I (55, 60, 43, and 83% inhibition at a concentration of 100 microM, respectively).

Antiproliferative and differentiating effects of polysaccharide fraction from fu-ling (Poria cocos) on human leukemic U937 and HL-60 cells.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2004.
Poria cocos, Fu-Ling, is an oriental fungus and has been widely used as a Chinese traditional herbal medicine for centuries. In the present study, a neutral polysaccharide fraction from Poria cocos was isolated by a series of chromatographies and its effects on antiproliferation and differentiation of human leukemic cells, U937 and HL-60, were investigated in vitro. Results showed that the molecular weight of isolated Poria cocos  was approximately 160 kDa, as estimated by gel permeation chromatography. It suggests that Poria cocos is a biological response modifier (BRM), instead of a cytotoxic reagent, and may be a potential alternative in leukemia therapy.

Dehydrotrametenonic acid and dehydroeburiconic acid from Poria cocos and their inhibitory effects on eukaryotic DNA polymerase alpha and beta.
Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2004.
A new lanostane-type triterpene acid, (20xi)-3-oxolanosta-7,9(11),24-trien-21-oic acid (1; dehydrotrametenonic acid), along with a known triterpene acid, dehydroeburiconic acid (2), were isolated from the epidermis of the sclerotia of Poria cocos. The structure of 1 was analyzed on the basis of spectroscopic methods. Compounds 1 and 2 inhibited calf DNA polymerase alpha and rat DNA polymerase beta.

Influence of traditional Chinese anti-inflammatory medicinal plants on leukocyte and platelet functions. Pharm Pharmacol. 2003 Sep;55(9):1275-82.
The enzymes 5-lipoxygenase and elastase are therapeutic targets in dermatological disorders such as psoriasis. Fifteen extracts from traditional Chinese medicinal plants used to treat topical inflammations were screened for their inhibitory effect on lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase and elastase activity in intact leukocytes and platelets. Astragalus membranaceus, Forsythia suspensa and Poria cocos inhibited 5-lipoxygenase, with IC50 values of 141, 80 and 141 microg mL(-1), respectively. The latter two species, along with Angelica dahurica and Angelica pubescens, also inhibited elastase, while Angelica pubescens, Atractylodes macrocephala, Lentinus edodes, Rehmannia glutinosa and Paeonia lactiflora selectively inhibited 12-(S)-HHTrE production, a valid marker of cyclooxygenase activity. The inhibition of phospholipase A(2) activity by Poria cocos is discussed. Dehydrotumulosic and pachymic acids, which have been isolated from Poria cocos, were shown to inhibit leukotriene B(4) release. The results indicate that both Poria cocos and Forsythia suspensa are potentially valuable species in the management of skin pathologies involving chronic inflammation.

Antitumor activities of heteropolysaccharides of Poria cocos mycelia from different strains and culture media.
Carbohydr Res. 2003.
Ten water-soluble heteropolysaccharide fractions were isolated from Poria cocos mycelia cultured from one wild and one cultivated strain in two identical culture media differing only in one component: either corn steep liquor or bran extract. The chemical compositions, including monosaccharide profile, protein content, and molecular mass M(w) of the mycelial polysaccharides were determined. Both the in vitro and in vivo antitumor activities of the heteropolysaccharides were evaluated and compared. The heteropolysaccharides from Poria cocos mycelia cultured with the wild strain in a medium containing corn steep liquor exhibited the highest antitumor activities against Sarcoma 180 in vivo.

Inhibitory effects of triterpenes isolated from Hoelen on free radical-induced lysis of red blood cells.
Phytother Res. 2003.
Hoelen, sclederma of Poria cocos Wolf, has long been used as a sedative and diuretic in traditional medicine. Formerly, we demonstrated that Hoelen in vitro protects red blood cells from AAPH-induced hemolysis. In this study, tests were carried out to identify the main ingredient of Hoelen that has the scavenging effect on free-radicals. Triterpene carboxylic acids isolated from the methanol extract of Hoelen, i.e. pachymic acid, polyporenic acid, 3-epidehydrotumulosic acid, 3beta-hydroxylanosta-7,9(11), 24-trien-21-oic acid and 3-o-acetyl-16 alpha -hydroxytrametenolic acid, were found to have inhibitory activities against AAPH-induced lysis of red blood cells.

Hoelen (Poria Cocos Wolf) and ginseng (Panax Ginseng C. A. Meyer), the ingredients of a Chinese prescription DX-9386, individually promote hippocampal long-term potentiation in vivo.
Biol Pharm Bull. 19952.
DX-9386 is a traditional Chinese medicinal prescription consisting of ginseng (Panax Ginseng C. A. Meyer), polygala (Polygala Tenuifolia Willdenew), acorus (Acorus Gramineus Soland) and hoelen (Poria Cocos Wolf). We recently found that oral administration of the prescription at a dose of 500 mg/kg intensified the formation of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the dentoff gyrus of anesthetized rats. To evaluate the individual contribution of separate ingredients in DX-9386 towards the observed biological activity, we investigated their direct influence upon LTP formation in vivo. A single oral administration of hoelen and ginseng (250 and 500 mg/kg) significantly increased the spike amplitude evoked by a subthreshold tetanic stimulation at time intervals up to 30 min after tetanus. Only minor effects of polygala (500 mg/kg) and no influence of acorus up to 500 mg/kg were observed. No drugs affected the basal spike amplitude induced by a test stimulus. In addition, we ascertained that DX-9386 was also active at a dose of 250 mg/kg. Taken together, these results indicate that hoelen and ginseng are the active components of DX-9386 with regard to the enhancement of hippocampal LTP.

[Studies on chemical constituents from solvent extracts of Poria cocos Wolf]
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi.
Crystals I-N were isolated from the ethereal extracts of Poria cocos and identified respectively as O-acetyl-pachymic acid (I), 3 beta-hydroxy-lanosta-7,9(11),24-trien-21-oic acid (II), beta-amyrin acetate (III) and 3 beta-hydroxy-16 alpha-acetoxy-lanosta-7,9(11),24-trien-21-oic acid (N). Crystal III was obtained from P. cocos for the first time, and crystal N was newly discovered.

Suppression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1 beta, interleukin-6 and granulocyte-monocyte colony stimulating factor secretion from human monocytes by an extract of Poria cocos.
Zhonghua Min Guo Wei Sheng Wu Ji Mian Yi Xue Za Zhi. 1992.
Fu-Ling, the sclederma of Poria cocos (Schw.) Wolf, has long been used as a sedative and diuretic. However, data in this report suggest that Fu-Ling is a potential suppressor of cytokine secretion from human peripheral blood monocytes under in vitro condition. Monocyte culture medium containing 10% of Fu-Ling extract significantly inhibited secretion of TNF-alpha, IL-beta, IL-6 and GM-CSF from the monocyte monolayer. However, as Fu-Ling extract content was gradually reduced, cytokine secretion was augmented in comparison with the cytokine secretion in drug-free controls. This augmentative effect resulted from the trace amount (1.24 ng/ml in 0.62% of Fu-Ling extract) of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) which contaminated the Fu-Ling extract during the preparation process, since TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta and IL-6 secretion induced by 0.62% Fu-Ling extract could be significantly inhibited by polymyxin B, an LPS inhibitor. Furthermore, the amounts of TNF-alpha IL-1 beta and IL-6 induced by 1 ng/ml of LPS without the presence of drug were more than that induced by 0.62% of Fu-Ling extract. Thus, cytokine secretion induced by LPS contamination (1.24 ng/ml) in the Fu-Ling extract was partially suppressed by 0.62% of the Fu-Ling extract itself. GM-CSF secretion in the medium containing 0.62% of Fu-Ling extract was not induced by LPS since: a) GM-CSF induced by 0.62% Fu-Ling extract could not be inhibited by polymyxin B; b) LPS at 1 ng/ml showed no activity indicating induction of GM-CSF secretion.

Poria Cocos fungus emails
Dear Dr. Sahelian and staff, I have purchased several supplements from Physicianformulas.com in the past on behalf of a prostate cancer patient friend, and he and I are extremely pleased with the quality and dependability of the services and products, and thorough information available on your website. I hope you may find the time to inform me about the availability and suitability of a combination of supplements I am currently seeking for my mother (in Belgium), 82, who is suffering from communicative hydrocephalus and will get a lumbar punction for temporary alleviation of her symptoms (triad: intermittent dementia episodes, ataxia and urinary incontinence). She is also a heart patient on coumadin, mild postassium-sparing diuretic Burinex, atenolol and supportive aspirin (2 yr post mural infarct, and chronic atrial fibrillation). She would not be a good candidate for placement of a CSF drainage shunt due to her advanced age and medical complications, and the risks involved in this surgical intervention (anesthesia complications, risk of infection, occlusion or shunt malfunction with need for repeated surgical intervention, and of course risk for subdural hematoma). Her neurologist agreed to a long-term physical therapy including Bruno Chikly's lymph drainage treatment method after she recovers from the lumbar punction, but he was not very hopeful about long-term alleviation of her symptoms. I have done some online research about availability of supplements to treat communicative hydrocephalus, and I have found a couple of links to Chinese Herb therapy sites, located in the Orient, and offering supplements that contain rather unusual components (dried earth worms? Lumbricus) and may not be subject to the same quality control as the products that Physician formulas may be offering. I have serious reservations about ordering Chinese "herbs" without the proper quality control, as there have been several lethal incidents in Europe  involving cardiac, kidney and liver complications after usage of non-controlled Oriental supplements. Sofar I have not been successful in locating any other supplements except for your formula.I have found your supplement containing poria cocos and alisma rhizome. This supplement also contains several other herbs, among which Dioscorea which may occasionally have undesirable gastro-intestinal side effects. I have yet to familiarize myself with the pharmacological actions of Fo Ti, but the other components definitely seem so complement the formula. I am very inclined to order this formula if  there are no increased cardiac, liver or kidney toxicity damage risks associated with the normal use of this supplement. My sincere apologies in advance, I know I should be able to do some research myself to evaluate these components, but I am convinced that Physician Formulas has all the quality control and side effect issues on file for this supplement, so it seemed like the most logical thing to do, i.e. ask you about any possible side effects we may have to be aware of. I am very grateful for your advice in this matter, and I hope that you may judge the Poria cocos supplement to be a safe supplement for my mom
to try.
   A. Thank you so much for your email. I do not feel there is enough research with this product to be comfortable for its safety in a complicated case as the one you present. Some herbs in this product could have cardiac stimulating properties that could lead to arrhythmia in a fragile patient. So, at this time, this is probably not a recommended product. Take care and we wish the best, we really can't say much more since it is such a complicated case.

Q. Does porio cocos help with sleep?
   A. I have not tried poria cocos personally to know whether it is a good sedative.