Poria Five Formula, aka Five-Ingredient Powder with Poria has been so helpful to me that I believe more people should be aware of its wonderful properties. This review is based on personal experience and my particular symptoms set.
While studying my condition from the Chinese medicine perspective I could not help but to be constantly led to conclusion that I have a serious spleen deficiency. Now, for those of you who haven’t delved much into TCM just keep in mind that ‘spleen deficiency’ is a wide encompassing term for various digestions issues, while ‘kidney yin deficiency’ is adrenal fatigue/hyper thyroid issues.
Spleen deficiency for me manifests as sluggish digestion, distention, bloating, inner coldness, strong preference for warm and cooked foods. Raw salad eaten in the evening was almost a guarantee for a sleepless night with multiple bathroom visits to urinate. Raw and cold foods induced either heat in my abdomen or chills in my core. On top of that I would feel stressed and restless. How is this even possible?
In Chinese medicine this points to both spleen and kidney deficiency. The two are very interrelated and you know this because adrenal fatigue is usually accompanied by poor digestion and various gut issues.This made me study and test various herbal formulas like Codonopsis & Astragalus, Codonopsis & Longan Combo, Six Gentlemen Decoction with Aucklandia and Amomum (Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Pian) that were specifically designed to nurture the spleen. However, much to my dismay, I kept bumping into issues. My digestion and energy would improve during the day but my heat and insomnia would increase at night. I couldn’t get it – why do I tonify the spleen but my kidney yin deficiency acts up so bad? I also could not tonify the kidney yin as I later learned (also through a lot of pain and suffering) that most popular Yin tonics like Rehmannia and He Shou Wu are cloying and introduce more spleen ‘dampness’.
This made me ask the question: what the hell is in those spleen tonics that are exacerbating my yin deficiency symptoms, and is there a more gentle formula that could potentially tonify both my spleen and my kidneys without producing more dampness or deficiency heat at night? After studying the ingredients I realized there are two culprits in my formulas that had to be out: codonopsis and astragalus. Both are contraindicated for yin deficiency symptoms as both are strong qi tonics and are heating.
So naturally I was on the lookout for a formula that was more suitable and this is how I eventually discovered Poria Five (Chinese: Wu Ling San).
About Poria Five Formula (Wu Ling San)
While searching online for “spleen deficiency and yin deficiency formula” I found an acupuncturist who was suggesting the use of zhu ling tang formula for spleen deficiency symptoms accompanied by kidney yin issues. Reason being is that most yin deficiency formulas are “cloying” on spleen, meaning they are hard to digest and can slow digestion. So zhu ling tang uses traditional spleen tonics like poria, herbals like polyporus and alismatis to dry out dampness and also ass hide, that’s ride, ass hide, aka donkey gelatin to nurture yin deficiency. The latter was a discovery of itself – gelatin is a yin tonic? Apparently it is and a very effective one.
I couldn’t get zhu ling tang shipped to Lithuania so I found its closest sister – Poria Five (wu ling san). I figured I’ll skip the ass hide as it was hard to obtain and just add regular organic gelatin. So that’s what I did.
Why am I adding gelatin? Because Poria Five is a drying formula (warms the yang) due to its diuretic herbs. To combat this and to nurture fluids we need a gentle and easily digestible yin tonic – gelatin.
First time I took the formula I noticed I didn’t have to get up to urinate that night. Second day I took it before bed but that was a mistake as I woke up two hours later and peed like a fireman’s horse. OK – no good before bed time. As I experimented with it I found it was best taken in the morning and second time before dinner which is about 6:00pm for me.
As I felt warmer overall, slept a better and felt calmer I took the formula for several months. It was one of those rare fits for me that seemed to work long term. With time I also noticed I was able to tolerate raw foods better which was a very welcoming improvement.
As I studied the formula even further I discovered that the herbs in Poria Five help to increase general circulation of blood and body fluids throughout the body. Yes, I felt a diuretic effect but only once after taking the formula but later on I didn’t have to pee as often even if I drank more fluids. This effectively took care of my frequent urination problem which apparently is a symptom of late stage adrenal fatigue/kidney jing deficiency (cold kidneys).
As months wore on and I started experimenting with other dietary changes I noticed I was becoming too warm during the day and night. Eventually, I realized I’ve addressed the deficiency and the formula has now become too warming for me.
Interestingly, this started happening when I began drinking fresh celery juice every morning. I read that it greatly boosts digestive health and I have to agree. Celery also contains very beneficial salts for adrenals so the juice works to support both – spleen and kidney deficiencies. I highly recommend you to try it if you want to boost your digestion.
As for Poria Five, it will find its rightful place in my hall of fame after all this mess is over. If you have any questions or have tried this formula yourself please leave a comment. I’d be very curious to get your take.
just stumbled upon your blog. it’s great! Wish I had seen this one year ago. This was when I developed severe insomnia that had me sleep only 1 or 2 hours and left me miserable for the rest of the day.
I seemed to have a similar journey like you. Doctors were no good -> Then I educated myself on those health issues and worked with supplements.
A lot, heck, most supplements actually had a paradox effect on me. Especially all the stuff that is said to be good for sleep/against insomnia.
Tried & failed: Each of them made sleep worse
Magnesium (different compounds)
Because I def had histamine issues last year, I tried some supplements for this like Quercetin or Green tea extract but they were really bad also.
only stuff that worked:
GABA (That one was actually major)
copper (I had acopper deficiency in blood sample. Supplemental copper improved symptoms at first but kind of backfired after 2 weeks)
The latter one had an awesome effect on my nervous system. It made me calm, and seemd to give me the strength, I almost lost entirely during the last gruesome month. But the alcohol extract produced a nasty side effect eventually.
However while studying the benefits of schisandra finally made me look into TCM. Until then I kind of looked down at TCM as some voodoo bullshit. It was only when I noticed that the stuff assigned to schisandra was quite fitting for my symptoms that I became curious.
In the end I decided to go to an TCm doctor even though it’s expensve. And thank god! Accupuncture + cupping brought some relief quite fast. but the real help only set in when he finally prescribed me a herbal tea.
I looked up the ingredients and came to the conlusion that this formula adresses the mostly the spleen, just like your favourite ones.
This tea is making an amazing difference for me. My sleep is pretty much normal again. I feel like a human again.
Still got some issues though. Just like you, I am intolerant to the cold. Especially cold feet and legs are a problem. Sometimes I would (probably still) have problems falling asleep because of very nasty chills in my feet right after I go to bed. But I found a solution for myself: For me it work great if I put a hot-water-bag under my blanket beforehand. I position it 15 minutes at the place, where my kidneys will be and the last 15 minutes at the place where my feet will be. Then I’ll go to bed and put the hot-water-bag aside so i don’t get to hot in the middle of the night.
That way I have a very comfortable warmth which helps me fall asleep.
Apart from that I probably have kidney yin, yang and jing deficiency as well as lung dryness (self observed)
My TCM doc isn’t to talkative about my tcm diagnosis. he only said Liver qi, stagnation and dampness.
Hi buddy, how interesting! I knew there had to be other people going through similar experiences. You sound like you’re at a stage that I had gone through as well. Can you post the formula here you got from your TCM guy? I’d be very curious to see what’s in it. I have another guy guiding me now and awaiting the formula as well which he says will kick-start my digestion. He also had me go on a strict local/seasonal food diet to balance out the energies and allow the body to adopt better. If you have cold feet try rubbing them with warm sesame oil before bed time. Also rub behind your ears and the sides along your neck muscles. That will make a big difference. You’re right this is indicative of spleen and kidney deficiencies.
Which type of GABA did you take that was effective for you? I’ve been trying powdered GABA recently (NOW Foods) but apparently it doesn’t cross the blood/brain barrier and I haven’t noticed any positive results with it yet.
Afaik it’s a customized formula:
Fructus jujubae 8g
Poria (Fu ling) 8g
Citri reticulatae (Chen pi) 8g
Fructus citri auranti (Zhi Ke) 8g
rhizoma pinelliae praeperata (Zhi ban xia) 8g
Caulis bambusae in taeniam 5g
rhizoma zingiberis 3g
radix glycyrrhizae 3g
rhizoma coptidis 2g
I’d say it’s anti-phlegm, spleen (& stomach) tonifying, Qi moving and a little bit blood building. In that order. Maybe there is a more sophisticated concept behind it I don’t see.
Does sesame oil at those spots have a TCM meaning as well?
Thank you, yes seems like the formula is along those lines, mostly supporting digestion. How are you doing on it? I’m sure the sesame oil rubbing spots run along some meridians but I didn’t really look into them. Just makes sure to use regular sesame oil (warm), not black sesame (neutral).