Chinese Name: Fu ling
Medical Name: Poria Cocos
Latin Name: Poria cocos, a fungus of the family Polyporaceae
Origin: Air-dried underground sclerotium of Poria cocos, a fungus mostly parasitic on the root of Japanese red pine or Pinus massiniana Lamb.
Taste: Sweet and bland

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "Reverses the adverse flow of qi in the chest and abdomen, alleviates phobia and palpitations due to melancholy, resolves painful masses in the epigastrium, chills and fever, and dysphoria with dry tongue."
"Tuckahoe induces diuresis. Long-term use can tranquilize the mind, refresh the spirit, prevent hunger and promote longevity."

AMPLIFIED MATERIA MEDICA: "This herb is very effective in promoting the circulation of body fluids, so it is indispensable for the replenishment of the heart and spleen."

THE COMPENDIUM OF MATERIA MEDICA: "Tuckahoe (Poria Cocos) and its divinity have long been used for the treatment of palpitations. In fact, it was considered by Chang Jiegu that nothing but tuckahoe with its own divinity could relieve dizziness due to pathogenic wind and cardiac weakness. We cannot say that tuckahoe (Poria Cocos) itself cannot treat heart disease."

Western Research

Oncol Rep. 2006 Mar;15(3):637-43.
Growth-inhibitory effects of a beta-glucan from the mycelium of Poria cocos on human breast carcinoma MCF-7 cells: cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis induction
Zhang M, Chiu LC, Cheung PC, Ooi VE.
Department of Biology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China.
Because of the reported immune-enhancing and anti-tumor activities of some mushroom polysaccharides, their applications as biological response modifiers have attracted significant attention. We have purified a water-soluble beta-glucan PCM3-II, comprising mainly 1right curved arrow 3 and 1right curved arrow 4 linkages, from the mycelia of Poria cocos (Schw.) Wolf (Fu-ling). In this study, the growth-inhibitory effect of PCM3-II was further explored on the human breast carcinoma MCF-7 cells in vitro. The dose effect of PCM3-II was studied by incubating the breast cancer cells with 12.5-400 microg/ml of the glucan for 72 h. The MTT study showed that PCM3-II reduced proliferation and viability of the MCF-7 cells dose-dependently, so that the cancer-cell growth was decreased by 50% of the control level at 400 microg/ml of the glucan. The time effect of PCM3-II was then investigated by treating the breast cancer cells with 400 microg/ml of the glucan for 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively. Results from the flow cytometry study demonstrated that PCM3-II induced cell-cycle G1 arrest time-dependently and about 90% of the cells in cell cycle were accumulated at G1 phase after 72 h of treatment. The G1 arrest was associated with downregulations of the unscheduled cyclin D1 and cyclin E expressions in the breast cancer cells. Apoptosis was also induced by PCM3-II in the MCF-7 cells, so that the subG1 cells in DNA histogram of the flow cytometry were elevated by 5-fold of the control level at 48 h and by 24-fold at 72 h of treatment. The immunoblot study also showed that the glucan induced depletion of the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 protein, but not the proapoptotic Bax protein, so that the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio was elevated in the breast cancer cells at the time when the most prominent apoptosis was also observed. In conclusion, although the detailed mechanism for the anti-tumor activity of the P. cocos beta-glucan still needs further investigation, this study provides preliminary insights into its mode of action and perspectives of its development as a water-soluble anti-tumor agent.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Jul 15;332(4):1153-61.
Induction of apoptosis in prostate cancer cells by pachymic acid from Poria cocos.
Gapter L, Wang Z, Glinski J, Ng KY.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.
Pachymic acid (PA) is a natural triterpenoid known to inhibit the phospholipase A2 (PLA(2)) family of arachidonic acid (AA)-producing enzymes. PLA(2) is elevated in prostatic adenocarcinoma and conversion of AA to prostaglandins leads to AKT pro-survival activity. In this study, we investigated the effect of PA on the growth of human prostate cancer cells. PA significantly reduced cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in a dose- and time-dependent fashion, with androgen-insensitive DU145 prostate cancer cells showing greater growth inhibition relative to androgen-responsive LNCaP. Despite elevated protein expression of the cell cycle inhibitor, p21, apoptosis occurred in the absence of cell cycle arrest. PA-treatment decreased Bad phosphorylation, increased Bcl-2 phosphorylation, and activated caspases-9 and -3, suggesting that PA initiated apoptosis through mitochondria dysfunction. PA-treatment also decreased the expression and activation of proteins within the AKT signal pathway. We speculate that PA influenced apoptosis by reducing prostaglandin synthesis and AKT activity.

Arch Pharm Res. 2004 Aug;27(8):829-33.
Cytotoxicity and DNA topoisomerases inhibitory activity of constituents from the sclerotium of Poria cocos.
Li G, Xu ML, Lee CS, Woo MH, Chang HW, Son JK.
College of Pharmacy, Yanbian University, Yanji 133000, P. R. China.
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 (36.1, 36.2, 43.9 and 66.7% inhibition at a concentration of 20 microM, respectively), but also inhibition of DNA topoisomerase I (55.8, 60.7, 43.5, and 83.3% inhibition at a concentration of 100 microM, respectively).

J Nat Prod 2002 Apr;65(4):462-5
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, Akihisa T, Tokuda H, Hirano M, Oshikubo M, Nobukuni Y, Kimura Y, Tai T, Kondo S, Nishino H.
College of Science and Technology, Nihon University, 1-8 Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-8308, Japan.
Evaluation of the cytotoxicity of several novel compunds (1-4) isolated from poria showed that 1 was significantly cytotoxic to leukemia HL-60 cells and that 4 exhibited moderate cytotoxicity to all of the cancer cell lines tested.