The Health Benefits of Poria Mushrooms

Purported to boost immunity and offer other benefits

Poria tablets, capsules, dried mushroom, granules and powder

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

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Poria (Poria cocos) is a type of mushroom. It's been used for 2,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It's one of the most commonly prescribed traditional remedies in China.

Poria has caught the attention of researchers as a potential remedy for symptoms of several different conditions. So far, research has focused on animals or laboratory studies. with some promising biochemical results.

The medicinal part of the mushroom is the filaments under the cap. You can buy poria dried or in capsule form.

In this article, you'll learn what poria's being studied for, what's known about it as a treatment, what side effects and risks are possible, typical dosages, how to prepare it, and what to look for in a product.

Also Known As

  • China root
  • China tuckahoe
  • Fu ling
  • Hoelen
  • Matsuhodo

Health Benefits

The mushrooms have several beneficial actions including:

  • Antitumor
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-aging
  • Immunomodulatory

Early research suggests that poria may be useful in treating:

Several other uses have less evidence but show promise.

Alzheimer's Disease

Preliminary research suggests that poria mushrooms may help fight Alzheimer's disease.

A 2021 study on mice showed that poria helped the brain clear beta-amyloid (ßA) from the brain. ßA is what forms plaques that cause Alzheimer's symptoms. The end result was that poria improved cognitive function. It also improved gut health, which may be a factor in Alzheimer's disease due to the brain-gut axis.

This builds on earlier research that showed Poria extract reduced oxidative stress on biopsied brain cells obtained from rats. At that time, researchers suggested P. cocos may help shield the brain from the toxic effects of ßA.

Cancer

Several studies suggest poria may have anti-tumor properties against the following types of cancer:

A 2018 study reported an extract of P. cocos showed cell-killing abilities in four human lung cancer cell lines.

A 2020 study found it improved the anti-tumor effect of drug treatment and also reversed drug resistance, which can be a problem in people with cancer.

Another 2020 study showed a compound from poria mushrooms (pachymic acid) killed breast cancer cells. Researchers noted that pachymic acid has the potential to be used as a low-side-effect treatment.

Other research has identified a polysaccharide (a type of sugar) in poria as a potential anti-tumor drug.

The mushroom also appears to make changes to the immune system that may help fight cancer.

These are all lab or animal studies. We'll need human trials to know whether poria is a safe and effective cancer treatment.

Diabetes

Poria mushrooms may be effective against type-2 diabetes.

In a 2011 study, researchers found an extract of P. cocos significantly lowered blood sugar levels in mice. They credited triterpenes, which are believed to improve insulin sensitivity, for this effect.

A 2016 study showed an herbal blend including poria lessened insulin resistance in rats.

Other Benefits

Other potential benefits of poria are less well-researched and still in lab and animal testing. More research needs to be done, but research so far is promising for these uses.

  • Depression: Fights depression by increasing serotonin and dopamine, lowering inflammation in the frontal cortex
  • Digestive problems: Improves intestinal health, restores gut flora, protects against chemotherapy damage
  • Heart disease: Protects against atherosclerosis by reducing inflammation, cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress
  • Hemorrhagic fever: Increases immune response against the Marburg virus, which causes hemorrhagic fever; is considered as a potential vaccine
  • Hyperpigmentation: Used topically, lowers melanin activity to reduce freckles and skin-darkening conditions
  • Insomnia: Improves sleep through action on the calming neurotransmitter GABA
  • Kidney damage: Protects against damage due to infection or other causes
  • Liver toxicity: Protects against damage from acetaminophen and fatty liver disease
  • Osteoporosis: Reduces bone loss and bone marrow changes in postmenopausal osteoporosis
  • Skin aging: Reduces oxidative stress damage (aging) to skin, may be effective in skin-care products

Possible Side Effects

While poria has been used for centuries, that doesn't mean it's safe.

Not enough research has been done, especially in humans, to gauge poria's side effects. Little is known about safety, long-term risks, or possible drug interactions.

If you experience any side effects (like vomiting or diarrhea) after consuming poria, let your healthcare provider know.

Not much is known about the safety of poria mushrooms during pregnancy or breastfeeding. If you are pregnant or nursing, it's best to avoid poria mushrooms in any form.

Poria tablets

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage and Preparation

No guidelines are established for dosages of poria mushrooms. Studies show low toxicity levels, meaning it takes a large amount to cause an overdose.

But beyond that, poria's side effects profile is generally unknown.

When taken in tablet or capsule form, poria is typically dosed between 500 milligrams (mg) once daily to 1,200 mg twice daily. Never exceed the manufacturer's dosing recommendations, and always follow your doctor's recommendations.

Ways it is prepared and consumed:

  • Pre-packaged granules usually come in sachets that you mix with boiling water. The flavor is described as sweet, but bland.
  • To prepare a tonic without the granules, you can steep mushrooms in boiling water.
  • Some people even make porridges, soups, and rice cakes from reconstituted or powdered mushrooms. transforming the medicinal remedy into a culinary treat.

What to Look for

Supplements and herbal remedies are largely unregulated in the United States. They don't have to go through the testing pharmaceutical drugs do.

Products used in traditional Chinese medicine may pose safety concerns because they are so loosely regulated. In the past, products have been tainted with heavy metals, pesticides, and even drugs.

Imported natural remedies pose a risk of contamination. It's even possible that they don't contain the ingredients listed on the product label. If buying imported whole dried poria mushrooms, do not assume they are safe because they come in a sealed container. If there are any signs of mold or moisture, discard them immediately.

Voluntary Certification

When buying poria supplements or powders, opt for well-known brands that have been voluntarily submitted for testing by an independent certifying body like:

  • U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)
  • NSF International
  • ConsumerLab

Certification of herbal supplements is increasing and has been embraced by some larger manufacturers. Certification guarantees a product contains what its label says it does and is free from contaminants. It does not guarantee safety or effectiveness.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bars manufacturers of dietary supplements from making any unproven or misleading claims about cures or other health benefits. Those kinds of statements could be a red flag that a company isn't reputable.

Summary

Poria cocos has been used in TCM for 2,000 years. It's showing promise as a treatment for numerous health conditions, especially Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and diabetes. It may also have benefits for digestion, insomnia, depression, osteoporosis, and skin aging.

The safety profile of poria isn't yet established. Toxicity appears to be low. Report any negative side effects to your healthcare provider.

You can take poria as a capsule or tonic, or put it in food. Look for products tested by independent labs.

A Word From Verywell

It's easy to think of natural products as "safe." However, they can cause side effects and drug interactions.

Don't delay conventional treatment in favor of poria or other alternative treatments. That can have dire effects on your outcome, especially when it comes to cancer.

To protect your health, involve your healthcare provider in all your treatment decisions, including poria and other natural products. They may be able to spot potential problems based on your overall health and what medications you're taking.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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