Fu ling is an herbal remedy used in the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is extracted from a fungus which is found widely around the world. Many cultures, including the Native Americans, used this fungus to treat various health problems. Many Chinese herbalists and markets carry this remedy in a variety of forms, and it is also included in a number of tonics which are designed to promote general health. Harvesting fu ling is not recommended unless you are very familiar with mushrooms.
|Fu Ling / Tuckahoe|
Early Europeans who observed Native Americans harvesting fu ling referred to it as Indian bread or Indian potatoes, since they believed that the fungus was an important staple food. Slaves knew it as Tuckahoe, while others call it Polyporus, in a reference to its family. Another alternate name for fu ling is hoelen. Some herbal companies actively cultivate this fungus in Chinese red pine forests, ensuring a steady supply of the valued herb.
|This is the form I usually buy it in.|
This next paragraph is the perfect example of how Chinese medicine differs from Western. Make note of the references to the various way they consider "how" symptoms present: enriching the heart and spleen; draining heat and mobilizing water; calming the heart spirit . . . there are simply no Western herbs that we could choose to address the symptoms.
The portion of the fungus that grows closer to the root is white in color and is thus known as white poria; that closer to the outer skin is pinkish in color and known as red poria. White poria is the product that is normally dispensed when just Poria (fu ling) is prescribed. Penetrating the Mysteries of the Material Medica observes that the red variety "can only drain heat and mobilize water; it does not have the many actions of white poria." Red poria is often prescribed for such disorders as scanty, dark urine or urinary difficulty. Another way of looking at this is that white poria enters the qi aspect and red poria enters the blood aspect; white poria more strongly tonifies, while red poria is more facilitating. Thus for enriching the Heart and Spleen, and calming the Heart spirit, white poria is superior, but for eliminating water and dampness, especially if associated with blood stasis, red poria is the better choice. (Chinese Herbal Materia Medica, 3rd edition).
And the Chinese Herbal Material Medica is one of my regular resource books (and is on my book list on the left.