Fu ling (Chinese), bukuryo (Japanese), hoelen (English).
Harvested from the roots of pine trees.
Poria cocos has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries1. Traditionally it was used to reinforce and balance the effects of other herbs in medicinal formulas, and has been considered a tonic, diuretic, and sedative2.
A number of triterpenes have been isolated from Poria cocos that show activity against the Epstein-Barr virus, skin tumors, leukemia, melanoma and sarcoma3,4,5. Poria cocos inhibited the formation of skin tumors in studies with mice6. Tested in vitro with human leukemic cells, Poria cocos polysaccharides suppressed leukemia proliferation, with an inhibition rate of 74.7–87.3%. Interestingly, levels of the cancer-fighting immune cells interferon and tumor necrosis factor were 40% and 10% higher respectively compared to the control group7.
Poria cocos has demonstrated effect as a potent anti-inflammatory. In topical and oral tests, the mushroom extract was active against carrageen, arachidonic acid, and TPA acute edemas, as well as chronic inflammation, dermatitis, and delayed hypersensitivity reactions8.
1 Chen, Yue-Yawn, and Hung-Min Chang. Antiproliferative and differentiating effects of polysaccharide fraction from fu-ling (Poria cocos) on human leukemic U937 and HL-60 cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology 42.5 (2004): 759-769.
2 Powell, M., 2010. Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide, Mycology Press, East Sussex U.K..74-75.
3 Akihisa, Toshihiro, et al. Anti-tumor-promoting effects of 25-methoxyporicoic acid A and other triterpene acids from Poria cocos. Journal of Natural Products 72.10 (2009): 1786-1792.
4 Akihisa, Toshihiro, et al. Triterpene acids from Poria cocos and their anti-tumor-promoting effects. Journal of Natural Products 70.6 (2007): 948-953.
5 Jin, Yong, et al. Antitumor activities of heteropolysaccharides of Poria cocos mycelia from different strains and culture media. Carbohydrate Research 338.14 (2003): 1517-1521.
6 Kaminaga, T., et al. Inhibitory effects of lanostane-type triterpene acids, the components of Poria cocos, on tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate in two-stage carcinogenesis in mouse skin. Oncology 53.5 (2009): 382-385.
7 Chen, Yue-Yawn, and Hung-Min Chang. Antiproliferative and differentiating effects of polysaccharide fraction from fu-ling (Poria cocos) on human leukemic U937 and HL-60 cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology 42.5 (2004): 759-769.
8 Cuellar, Maria Jesus, et al. Effect of the basidiomycete Poria cocos on experimental dermatitis and other inflammatory conditions. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 45.3 (1997): 492-494.
1. Antitumor activities of heteropolysaccharides of Poria cocos mycelia from different strains and culture media
Jin Y., et al. Carbohydrate Research. 2003. 338 (14), 1517-1521.
Researchers produced ten polysaccharide fractions from Poria cocos mushroom in order to evaluate their characteristics and effects. Some fractions were created from wild Poria cocos while others were derived from a cultivated strain. The culturing medium for each fraction was either corn steep liquor or bran extract. In a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments, each fraction was studied for its anti-tumor activity. The most effective fraction, demonstrated in vivo against sarcoma, was derived from the wild strain of the mushroom cultured in corn steep liquor.
2. Triterpene acids from Poria cocos and their anti-tumor-promoting effects
Akihisa, T., et al. Journal of Natural Products. 2007. 70 (6), 948-953.
Researchers isolated six previously unidentified triterpenes (naturally occurring compounds) in Poria cocos mushroom and evaluated their chemical structure. They looked at these six compounds, along with eleven other known triterpenes in Poria cocos, to determine their anti-tumoric activity. Most of the compounds were effective against Epstein-Barr virus early antigen, which is associated with various types of cancer. Two of the compounds showed anti-tumor effects in vivo against skin tumors.
3. Anti-tumor-promoting effects of 25-methoxyporicoic acid A and other triterpene acids from Poria cocos
Akihisa, T., et al. Journal of Natural Products. 2009. 72 (10), 1786-1792.
Researchers isolated nine previously unidentified triterpenes (naturally occurring compounds) in Poria cocos mushroom and identified their chemical structure. These compounds, along with two previously identified triterpenes, were all found to be effective in vitro against Epstein-Barr virus early antigen, which is associated with various types of cancer. One of the new triterpene compounds also suppressed skin tumors in vivo.
4. Inhibition of tumor-promoting effects by poricoic acids G and H and other lanostane-type triterpenes and cytotoxic activity of poricoic acids A and G from Poria cocos
Ukiya, M., et al. Journal of Natural Products. 2002. 65 (4), 462-465.
Researchers isolated two new triterpenes from Poria cocos mushroom and identified their chemical structure. The two new compounds, along with eight previously known Poria cocos compounds, were evaluated for their anti-cancer effects. All the compounds suppressed Epstein-Barr virus early antigen, which is associated with various types of cancer. Two compounds also showed cytotoxicity in varying degrees to cancer cells in vitro.
5. Effect of the basidiomycete Poria cocos on experimental dermatitis and other inflammatory conditions
Cuellar, M.J., et al. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 1997. 45 (3), 492-494.
In this in vivo experiment involving mice, researchers produced an extract from Poria cocos and tested it for its anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, researchers isolated two new triterpene compounds and identified their chemical structure. Testing revealed that the extract improved induced edema, inflammation, and immune reaction.
6. 3 beta-p-hydroxybenzoyldehydrotumulosic acid from Poria cocos, and its anti-inflammatory effect
Yasukawa, K., et al. Phytochemistry. 1998. 48 (8), 1357-1360.
Researchers isolated a new triterpene compound from Poria cocos and identified its chemical structure. In in vivo experiments with mice, the researchers tested the anti-inflammatory effects of the compound. They induced inflammation in the ears of the mice and administered the Poria cocos compound. Results indicated that the compound was significantly effective against the induced inflammation.
7. Antiproliferative and differentiating effects of polysaccharide fraction from fu-ling (Poria cocos) on human leukemic U937 and HL-60 cells
Chen, Y.Y., and Chang, H.M. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2004. 42 (5), 759-769.
In a series of in vitro experiments, researchers tested the effects of a polysaccharide derived from Poria cocos mushroom. Test results revealed that the polysaccharide inhibited the proliferation of two leukemia cell lines by 87% and 75%. In addition, the compound stimulated 49-66% of the cells to differentiate into macrophages, which are important cells in immune defense. Other immune activity increased in the cells as well, including levels of interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Researchers conclude that the Porio cocos polysaccharide functions not as a cytotoxic compound, but rather as a biological response modifier. They believe it shows potential in the treatment of leukemia.
8. Inhibitory effects of lanostane-type triterpene acids, the components of Poria cocos, on tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate in two-stage carcinogenesis in mouse skin
Kaminaga, T., et al. Oncology. 1996. 53 (5), 382-385.
In this series of in vivo experiments involving mice, two compounds, pachymic acid and poricoic acid B, were isolated from the Poria cocos mushroom and evaluated for their effects. Researchers induced inflammation in the mice and then administered the compounds; both significantly inhibited the inflammation. The researchers also administered a chemical to induce skin tumors in the mice; the tumor formation was inhibited by the Poria cocos compounds.
9. Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activities of ethanol extracts of selected traditional Chinese medicinal herbs
Zhang, L., et al. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2013. 6 (9), 673-681.
In this series of experiments, researchers investigated the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial effects of 58 plants and fungi used in traditional Chinese medicine. They created ethanol extracts of each plant or fungus under study and administered them in three different concentrations. Eight extracts, including Porio cocos mushroom, were especially effective, demonstrating both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects.
10. Urinary metabonomic study of the surface layer of Poria cocos as an effective treatment for chronic renal injury in rats
Zhao, Y.Y., et al. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2013. 148 (2), 403-410.
Researchers sought to determine the mechanism by which Poria cocos works as a diuretic and reduces swelling. They evaluated Poria’s effects on markers in rat urine. They found that Poria cocos corrected abnormal markers in the urine of rats with kidney damage. Notable effects included improvement in adenine and amino acid metabolism. Researchers conclude that Poria cocos may be helpful for chronic kidney disease.
11. Triterpenes from Poria cocos suppress growth and invasiveness of pancreatic cancer cells through the downregulation of MMP-7
Cheng, S., et al. International Journal of Oncology. 2013. 42 (6), 1869-1874.
Researchers evaluated four tripterpene compounds from Poria cocos mushroom and evaluated their effects on pancreatic cancer cells. One compound was a mixture of several triterpenes; three triterpenes were individually isolated and tested. All inhibited pancreatic cell proliferation in vitro. One of the triterpenes, pachymic acid, was the most effective against the cancer cells and had little effect on healthy pancreatic duct epithelial cells. The mixed compound, researchers determined, worked by influencing G0/G1 cell cycle arrest and by affecting MMP-7 (an enzyme). Pachymic acid also influenced expression of MMP-7. Researchers believe Poria cocos has potential in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
12. Poria cocos inhibits high glucose-induced proliferation of rat mesangial cells
Yoon, J.J., et al. American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2013. 41 (1), 71-83.
Chronic high blood sugar is associated with mesangial cell proliferation and kidney failure. (Mesangial cells help regulate blood flow through blood vessels around the kidneys.) In this study, researchers looked at the ability of an extract of Poria cocos mushroom to inhibit mesangial cell proliferation under conditions of high blood sugar. They found that Poria suppressed the cell proliferation through antioxidant activity and cell cycle arrest. Researchers conclude that Poria may help prevent mesangial cell proliferation and its further complications.
13. Reversal of multidrug resistance of KBV200 cells by triterpenoids isolated from Poria cocos
Shan, H., et al. Planta Medica. 2012. 78 (5), 428-433.
In this series of in vitro experiments, researchers evaluated eight triterpenoids found in Porio cocos mushroom for their effects on drug-resistant tumor cells. KBV200 cells, cancer cells that are resistant to multiple chemotherapy drugs, were used in this study. A chemical, vincristine, was used to induce cytotoxicity in the cells, which were then treated with the various triterpenoids. All of them boosted cancer cell death. The triterpenoid dehydrotumulosic acid had the greatest effect.
14. Cytotoxic and apoptosis-inducing activities of triterpene acids from Poria cocos
Kikuchi, T., et al. Journal of Natural Products. 2011. 74 (2), 137-144.
Researchers investigated six triterpene compounds from Porio cocos, along with twelve of their derivatives, and evaluated them for their effects on eight types of cancer cells. Eleven of the 18 compounds tested were effective against at least one of the types of cancer cells. The most promising compound was a derivative identified as poricotriol A (1c). It had significant cytotoxic effects against six types of cancer cells.
15. Poria cocos water extract (PCW) protects PC12 neuronal cells from beta-amyloid-induced cell death through antioxidant and antiapoptotic functions
Park, Y.H., et al. Die Pharmazie. 2009. 64 (11), 760-764.
Beta amyloid is a protein that, in excess, is toxic to brain cells and is associated with Alzheimers disease. Reactive oxygen species (a type of free radical) is associated with this process. In this in vitro study, researchers looked at the ability of Poria cocos extract to protect against beta amyloid neurotoxicity. Testing revealed that the extract did in fact protect rat cells from beta amyloid-incuded death, by inhibiting oxidative stress. Researchers believe that Poria cocos may be helpful in prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
16. Polyporenic acid C induces caspase-8-mediated apoptosis in human lung cancer A549 cells
Ling, H., et al. Molecular Carcinogenesis. 2009. 48 (6), 498-507.
Triterpenoids from Poria cocos have been shown to be effective against cancer. In this series of in vitro experiments, researchers investigated the mechanism of action of one compound, polyporenic acid C, on lung cancer cells. This compound inhibited cancer cell proliferation by causing apoptosis. Further investigation revealed that the mechanism of action also involved activation of caspase-8 proteins (associated with apoptosis), suppressed AKT activity (which in excess is associated with cancer), and increased activity of a tumor-suppressing protein, p53.
17. Cytotoxic and anti-oxidant activities of lanostane-type triterpenes isolated from Poria cocos
Zhou, L, et al. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin (Tokyo). 2008. 56 (10), 1459-1462.
Researchers identified and isolated a previously unknown triterpene compound from Poria cocos, 29-hydroxypolyporenic acid. The new compound along with eight other compounds was tested for antioxidant and anti-cancer activity. No significant antioxidant effects were found. Seven of the eight compounds, including the newly identified one, demonstrated cytotoxic effects against human lung cancer and human prostate cancer cells in vitro. The effects on human lung cancer cells were more pronounced.
18. Induction of apoptosis in prostate cancer cells by pachymic acid from Poria cocos
Gapter, L, et al. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 2005. 332 (4), 1153-1161.
In this in vitro experiment, researchers examined the effects of pachymic acid from Poria cocos mushroom on human prostate cancer cells. The compound inhibited proliferation and stimulated apoptosis of cancer cells. The effects were dose dependent. Test results suggested that the mechanism of action was reduced AKT activity (which in excess is associated with cancer), as well as mitochondrial dysfunction.