Ma Bo (Puffball)

What Is Ma Bo

Ma Bo commonly known as Puffball is the mature fruiting body of Lasiosphaera fenzii Reich, Calvatia gigantea, or Calvatia lilacina, which is one of the notable medicinal fungi from of old. It first appeared in <Mingyi Bie Lu> around 420-589 AD.

There are 158 species of Puffballs in the world, most of which belong to the family Marburaceae, and the rest belong to the family Geostatidae. They are widely distributed in other states except for Antarctica and usually grow in grasslands, fields, and deciduous forests. Some of them can be used as food. In Tibet, the traditional technology of making ink by Puffball still exists.

Lasiosphaera fenzii Reich is mainly distributed in Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou, Xinjiang, Hebei, and Inner Mongolia.

Calvatia gigantea is commonly known as the giant puffball. It can be found in meadows, fields, and deciduous forests in temperate regions.

Calvatia lilacina is mainly distributed in Anhui, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hebei, Hubei, Sichuan, Xinjiang, and Qinghai.


Every summer and autumn, people pick the mature fruiting bodies of Lasiosphaera fenzii Reich, Calvatia gigantea, or Calvatia lilacina, remove their impurities, dry them, or remove the hard skin of their outer layers, cut them into cubes or grind them into powder, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Ma Bo contains steroids, terpenoids, gemmatein, calvatic acid, stearic acid, fumaric acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, aspartate, serine, threonine, alanine, leucine, tyrosine, urea, lipids, sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, D-allose, and a-amylase.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Ma Bo is relatively neutral, with a pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung meridian.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ma Bo is often used to clear heat and remove toxins, relieve sore throat, treat upper respiratory tract infections, epistaxis, traumatic bleeding, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and surgical bleeding. It is an important component of Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear shell swelling in mice.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging superoxide anions, and hydroxyl radicals.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of S180 sarcoma, Lewis lung cancer, leukemia K562 cells, and lung cancer A549 cells.
  • Inhibiting the transcription and translation of reticulocyte division and reducing the activity of breast cancer cells.
  • Treating gangrene and frostbite and promoting healing of ulcerative wounds.
  • Purging lung fire, treating sore throat, cough, and aphonia caused by lung fire.
  • Dispelling wind and heat, treating sore throat and cough caused by wind-heat.
  • Cooling blood and treating hematemesis and epistaxis caused by blood heat.
  • Stopping traumatic bleeding, oral bleeding, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and surgical bleeding.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus anthracis, Proteus, Pneumococcus, and some superficial dermatophytes.
  • The study found that its petroleum ether extract had strong contact-killing activity against armyworms.


Side Effects

At present, no data is showing that it has toxic effects.

A small proportion of patients taking it may cause headaches, chest tightness, sore throat, itching, flushing, skin rash, and other allergic reactions.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Ma Bo should be controlled at 1.5-6g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, insufflations, or ground into powder for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Ma Bo should not take it.
  • When making a decoction of Ma Bo, you should wrap it in gauze.
  • People with cough and aphonia due to wind-cold or tuberculosis should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.