What You Need to Know About Ursolic Acid: a Potent Anti-Inflammatory

This post has a lot of links to SelfDecode, so that people can see which SNPs affect a given pathway – and then if these pathways are working in them. You need to login and upload in order to see your genotype.  SelfDecode will be heavily integrated into SelfHacked, so I suggest you get your genes sequenced by 23andme and upload them to SelfDecode.

Introduction to Ursolic Acid

Ursolic Acid (UA) is a substance that comes from a variety of plants and herbs. It is part of a class of chemicals known as pentacyclic triterpenoids. It is primarily recognized for its potential role in cell growth regulation.

My Experience With Ursolic Acid

This is a supplement I like to take, but the issue is getting quality ones.  I tried the Labrada Nutrition one and I didn’t feel anything.  I then tried a higher quality one and it was very good.

For now, you can search for a ursolic acid on amazon. Just don’t buy Labrada Nutrition.

1) Ursolic Acid has anti-inflammatory properties



Cell culture study showed that Ursolic Acid enhanced autophagy (recycling) of macrophages by increasing the production of ATG5 and ATG16L1, which led to altered macrophage function (R).

Ursolic Acid reduced IL-1b secretion in macrophages in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (R).

Ursolic acid is a STAT3 inhibitor, which means it suppress Th1 and Th17 immune responses.

Ursolic Acid normalized PPARa activity and inhibited the exaggerated spinal cord inflammatory response and heightened pain sensitivity (R).

2) Ursolic Acid prevents memory impairment

One of the potential mechanisms of the neuroprotective effect was by lessening the accumulation of malondialdehyde (MDA) and depletion of glutathione (GSH) in thehippocampus (memory center) (R).

Malondialdehyde (MDA) is one of the better-known indicators of cell membrane injury (R).

UA significantly suppressed the increase of IL-1b, IL-6, and TNF levels in thehippocampus (memory center) of Amyloid beta treated mice (R).

3) Ursolic Acid has anti-cancer properties

Ursolic Acid at high doses decreased the following cancer markers: MMP-2, Ki-67, and CD34 (adhesion factor) (R).

UA treatment strongly blocked the cancer survival AKTGSK3b – β-catenin pathway, resulting in cell destruction (R).

UA at low concentrations enhanced the anti-tumoral effects of one cancer drug by up to 2-fold (R).

Ursolic Acid is able to induce cell destruction in human gut cancer cells by blocking the AKT pathway (R).

Under toxic conditions, Ursolic Acid induces the production of various Nrf2 -mediated detoxifying/antioxidant enzymes (R).

Epigenetic effects of Ursolic Acid could potentially contribute to its beneficial effects, including the prevention of skin cancer (R).

Ursolic Acid could inhibit proliferation and reverse the drug resistance of ovarian cancerous stem cells by suppressing ABCG2 and HIF-1a under different culture conditions, such as low oxygen (R).

4) Ursolic Acid has antimicrobial properties


Mycobacterial infections are controlled by the activation of macrophages through type 1 cytokine production by T cells (R).

IFNy and TNF-a are essential for this process because they promote macrophage activation and iNOS production (R).

Ursolic Acid and Oleic Acid stimulate IFNy production and also increaseiNOS and TNF production through NF-kB activation in mouse resting macrophages (R).

5) Ursolic Acid reduces post-stroke damage

Abrupt reoxygenation due to the rapid restoration of blood flow is frequently associated with an exacerbation of tissue injury and an intense inflammatory response that is triggered by inflammatory mediators, such as MMPs (R).

Studies have shown that the activity of MMPs, particularly MMP9, is markedly increased after obstruction of blood flow (R).

Excessive activation of MMP9 is deleterious to the brain (R).

Ursolic Acid leads to decreased production of MMP-2 and u-PA (R).

PPARy activation suppressed the inflammatory response in brain ischemia, and this finding suggests that PPARy might be critical in cases where the brain is restricted of blood (ischemia) (R).

PPARy protein levels were increased after Ursolic Acid treatment in a dose-dependent manner (R).

6) Ursolic Acid has liver-protective properties


UA inhibited growth and induced cell destruction of liver cancer cells through AMPK -mediated inhibition of DNA methyltransferase 1 (through SP1) (R).

UA inhibited growth of liver cancer cells through induction of IGFBP1 and FOXO3a (R).

Increasing evidence suggests an important role of IGFBP in the development and progression of several types of cancers (R).

7) Ursolic Acid combinations increase insulin sensitivity

The Ursolic Acid and Rosiglitazone combination ameliorated HFD-induced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance (R).

Ursolic acid was demonstrated to be an effective insulin-mimetic agent at doses above 50 μg/ml and as an insulin-sensitizer at doses as low as 1 μg/ml (R).


The treatment stimulated the IRS1, PI3-kinase, Akt, and GLUT4 translocation and increases the production of insulin receptors to improve glucose intolerance (R).

8) Ursolic Acid stimulates muscle growth

Ursolic acid enhances muscle insulin/ IGF-1 signaling, leading to Akt activation, muscle growth, and reduced fat and blood glucose (R).

Ursolic acid increases muscle at least in part by enhancing the IGF-I and insulin receptors (R).

One human study which gave healthy participants 150mg ursolic acid three times a day with meals for eight weeks alongside resistance training noted that supplementation was able to increase circulating IGF-1 concentrations by 22.8% relative to placebo (also given resistance training) (R).

Ursolic acid enhanced the production of myoglobin (∼2 folds) in concert with remodeling of muscle fibers to mainly fast IIA (∼30%) and slow-twitch (∼4%) types (R).

Ursolic acid indirectly mimicked beneficial effects of short-term calorie restriction and exercise (fast-oxidative) by directing the muscle composition toward oxidative metabolism (R).

Ursolic acid appears to have weak activity as an aromatase inhibitor (which would increase testosterone slightly) (R).

9) Ursolic Acid causes weight loss by increasing bodily energy expenditure

Ursolic acid increased muscle Akt activity in high fat-fed mice. Muscle Akt activity is known to increase energy expenditure and reduce obesity and its complications (R).

A proteomic study showed that a closely related triterpenoid activated insulin/IGF-Isignaling, AMPK, JAK /Stat signaling, NFkB and retinoic acid transmission (R).

Another possibility is that ursolic acid increases fight or flight activity, which is known to expand brown fat (R).

One study noted a decrease in circulating leptin levels associated with ursolic acid in rat feed, which is dependent on weight loss (R).

Potential Risks/Negatives

Due the potent endothelial cell death inducing activity of UA, a systemic application of UA in the treatment of heart diseases seems unfavorable. The DNA damaging activity of UA may however constitute a serious problem (R).

Previous study has revealed that UA has the potential of sperm motility inhibition. Specifically, it causes breaking of bridges in between cells that are soon to be sperm, and the damaged cells then collect to form symplasts in the seminiferous tubules that are associated with male infertility (R).

Buy Ursolic Acid

This is a supplement I like to take, but the issue is getting quality ones.  I tried the Labrada Nutrition one and I didn’t feel anything.  I then tried a higher quality one and it was very good.

For now, you can search for a ursolic acid on amazon or ursolic acid on ebay.  Just don’t buy Labrada Nutrition.


  1. Alita Nicholas

    Interested to see if substances are discovered in ursolic acid-containing foods that mitigate the negative effects of ursolic acid in the body.

  2. Charles Savoie

    Sigh, no distinction made between UA sources especially basil vs apple peel. Basil is NOT the preferred source of UA and is used by Labrada due to being cheaper. Apple peel triterpenoids are most unlikely to induce DNA injury nor to impair cardiac processes in any way. See Pub Med studies and there is some similarity in effects to sea cucumber.

    • Kieron Teague

      Acualy Charles savoie It is from rosemary leaf extract.

      Amount Per Saving %DV**
      Ursolic Acid200mg+
      (from rosemary Leaf Extract)

  3. Guy Brown

    If Ursolic Acid suppresses STAT3, but increases IFNy activation of macrophages and their respective cytokines would this still be suitable for a Th1/Th17 immune profile?

  4. Bob

    The sun is a big ball of burning gas and ursolic acid in supplement form, is man made and in unnatural amounts which seems kind of different?

  5. Bob

    So it does more good than harm then is that what you are saying, just the right amount of sun so you dont get sunburnt, so small amounts?

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