Wolfiporia extensa is a mushroom which is a wood-decay with a subterranean growth habit and it is a fungus in the family Polyporaceae. Because of the development of a large, long-lasting underground sclerotium that resembles a coconut, this mushroom is also known as “Poria cocos”.
Other common names are poria, China root, hoelen, tuckahoe, China Tuckahoe, fu ling and matsuhodo.
Because of its many health benefits, Poria cocos is another mushroom used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine and commonly prescribed remedy. Its main use is as a tonic which promotes immune health but at the same time it’s believed that this mushroom can prevent or even treat number of disorders or illnesses like insomnia, diabetes, diarrhea, kidney infection, senile dementia, tinnitus, urination problems, fatigue, cancer, anxiety, high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease.
Despite being widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and believed this type of mushroom can prevent or treat many medical conditions, there are just a few evidences supporting these beliefs.
However, it is certain that poria cocos contains couple substances which are important for human body. These substances include polysaccharides (important for the immune function), pachymic acid and triterpenoids (with antioxidant effects).
Poria cocos and the Alzheimer’s Disease
Some researches suggest that this mushroom might fight Alzheimer’s disease. According to a German study conducted in 2009 and published in journal Die Pharmazie, water-based Poria cocos extract reduced the oxidative stress on biopsied brain cells obtained from rats. The researchers suggested that this mushroom might be used as a brain shield from the toxic effects of beta-amyloid. This beta-amyloid is a substance which can be found in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Despite this, there are no further evidences of its benefits against the disease.
Poria cocos and diabetes
According to a 2011 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Poria cocos might be effective against diabetes. It’s believed that taking a poria supplements could reduce blood sugar fluctuations in people with diabetes or insulin resistance.
Possible Side Effects
Because of the lack of researches investigating the effects of poria mushrooms in human body, there is not much information about their safety, possible side effects or possible drug interactions. Even though they have been used for centuries in China, that doesn’t mean they are completely safe for humans. Keep in mind that if after consuming poria cocos you experience any unwanted effect like vomiting or diarrhea you have to call your doctor and let him know what poria product you have taken.
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