Will This Chinese Mushroom Fight Your Inflammation?
By Andi Bartz
Poria is a mushroom that tends to grow on wood. Medicine, including pills and topical treatments, is made from its filaments—threads that store the organisms’s food material. Poria is a key ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and it’s frequently used in Asia, often in herbal combinations. The essential claim is that it can be a weapon in the fight against chronic inflammation.
Chemicals in poria mushroom filaments may lower cholesterol, tamp down inflammation, and even improve kidney function—but clinical research is in its infancy. One small study showed that a topical cream containing poria mushroom helped treat early contact dermatitis (a skin irritation), but it didn’t seem to work on an established, full-blown rash. Scientists’ working theory? The mushroom filaments inhibited enzymes that are key to the inflammatory response.
In animal studies, too, the ingredient seems to modulate the immune system, serving as an anti-inflammatory. Lab experiments—i.e., research using microscopes and test tubes instead of living subjects—hint that poria mushroom filaments may even have anticancer and antitumor properties, but more research is needed.
Just to make things even more confusing, human studies have focused on combination products that contain poria mushroom and other traditional Chinese herbs, so it’s hard to say exactly how effective porio mushrooms are. “Poria mushroom seems to be safe, although it hasn’t been well researched,” notes Claire Wheeler, PhD, MD, a physician and psychologist living in Portland, Oregon.
How To Use It
An integrative MD or herbologist who’s well-versed in traditional Chinese medicine can help you determine the best dosage for quelling inflammation on your insides or out.
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