The Efficacy of Wulinshen for Sleep and Mood Support
Date: September 30th, 2014
Author: Richard Wang, MPH
The Efficacy of Wulinshen (Xylaria Nigripes) as a Natural Sleep Aid
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 50 to 70 million Americans are affected by chronic sleep
disorders and intermittent sleep problems1. These sleep problems can have serious consequences –
physical, emotional and behavioral disorders can all arise from accumulated sleep deficit. Each year,
hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on medical costs related to sleep disorders2. Fortunately, many
people have found that natural sleep aids are having a significant effect on the quality and duration of
sleep they achieve each night. This article will focus on a species of mushroom called wulinshen and its
ability to calm and manage sleep disorders and insomnia.
Wulinshen, also pronounced Wu Ling Shen (and will be used interchangeably through this article), is a
mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine. It's usage dates back centuries in China. Historically,
the mushroom was harvested wild and grounded up in a powder. Now, the mushroom is farm grown
and delivered in a pill or capsule form, although the Chinese still prefer to eat it whole. Wulinshen
contains large amounts of glutamic acid, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate
decarboxylase. GABA’s main role is to inhibit excitatory neuro-activities by exerting a tranquilizing effect
on the central nervous system3.
This mushroom is found several feet underground in combs of a particular termite species during the
spring and summer. Due to its location and rarity, Wu Ling Shen is not commonly known and utilized in
Western medicine. As a result, few Western studies on the mushroom have been done. However, the
research that has been done on Wu Ling Shen is very interesting, and presents some promising data that
could benefit those who suffer from sleep disorders.
Perhaps the most convincing study, “Efficacy and safety of Wu Ling capsule, a single herbal formula, in
Chinese subjects with insomnia: A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial” by
Lin et al., found evidence that during a four week trial, Wu Ling capsule can improve insomnia
significantly 4. Previous studies have found that Wu Ling Shen is also effective in reducing depression
and anxiety and can have a restorative effect on those who have had a stroke and are experiencing
depression as a by-product 5,6.
The most recent study on Wu Ling Shen suggests that the compounds in the mushroom can exert
effective protection against spatial memory impairment induced by rapid eye movement sleep
deprivation7. This study is important because research strongly suggests that sleep plays a vital role in
learning and memory, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is closely related to synaptic plasticity and
memory. The authors speculate that Wu Ling Shen may regulate the p-CREB signaling to promote
learning and memory through activating GABA receptors.
Clearly, Wu Ling Shen has some very interesting and valuable side effects. With the potential to reduce
insomnia, sedate, and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, it is certainly a worthy medicine to
research. As expected, future studies should involve more trials with larger samples, as well as different
dosing methods. To date, no negative side effects have been reported, so if you are looking for an
effective natural sleep aid you just might want to consider Wu Ling Shen. For naturopaths & alternative
medicine practitioners, please visit nulivlife.com to order high grade wulinshen extract at wholesale
prices. Individual consumers can visit nulivlifestyle.com to learn more about wulinshen and for retail
1. http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-studies [webpage, retrieved on 28 September 2014]
2. The Institute of Medicine, 2006. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health
Problem. [PDF, retrieved 28 September 2014]
3. Gong Q.F., 2008. Chemical constituents in fermented
mycelium of Xylaria Nigripes. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 33(11): 1269-72.
4.Lin, Y., et al. 2013. Efficacy and safety of Wu Ling capsule, a single herbal formula, in Chinese subjects
with insomnia: A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of
Ethnopharmacology 145(1): 320-327.
5. Wang, X.J., et al. 2009. Wuling capsule for climacteric patients with depression and anxiety state: A
randomized, positive parallel controlled trial. J. Chin. Integr. Med., 7: 1042-1046
6. Attitalla, I.H., 2012. Wuling Capsule Can Improve Cognitive and Depression Defects of Stroke. Insight
Ethnopharmacology, 2: 1-2
7. Zhao, Z., 2014. Xylaria nigripes mitigates spatial memory impairment induced by rapid eye movement
sleep deprivation. Int. J. Clin. Med. 7(2):356-362