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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. Continue to read to learn more about the health benefits of ursolic acid.

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 log in 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.

Health Benefits of Ursolic Acid

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.

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

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

Ursolic Acid normalized PPARa activity and inhibited the exaggerated spinal cord inflammatory response and enhanced 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 the hippocampus (memory center).

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 the hippocampus (memory center) of Amyloid beta treated mice [R].

3) Ursolic Acid May Have Anti-Cancer Properties

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

UA treatment strongly blocked the cancer survival AKT – GSK3b – β-catenin pathway, resulting in cell destruction.

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

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

Ursolic Acid and Oleic Acid stimulate IFNy production and also increase iNOS 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.

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

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).

UA inhibited the growth of liver cancer cells through induction of IGFBP1 and FOXO3a. 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 a 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.

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

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 to the potent endothelial cell death-inducing the 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].

A 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

Ursolic acid

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

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  • ivo

    The amount of misinformation in these comment section is appalling. Truly scientific understanding in America is dead, dead, dead.

  • Donatella Linari

    What would be a safe and adequate daily dose of Ursolic Acid for a 70-year old woman (50 kg weight) with extremely weak muscles (with frequent spontaneous ruptures in the thighs)? Only diagnosis: severe invalidating fibromyalgia. Which brand do you recommend? I would be very grateful for a reply.

  • Sam

    Apple Peels and rosemary are the highest sources of UA
    The new research paper also demonstrates how the plant-based chemicals work together. Combining ursolic acid with either curcumin or resveratrol prevents cancer cells from gobbling something that they need to grow, glutamine. This is a neat solution: blocking the uptake of a nutrient needed by prostate cancer cells with nutrients that are commonly in the human diet.

  • S

    I take soloray holy basil that has higher Ursolic content . Good supplement ?

  • Peter Rutkiewicz

    I take resveratrol daily. Ursolic acid causes DNA damage which makes supplementation risky. I prefer the “trace” level ursolic acid that is in apples, cranberries, prunes and oregano. Anything that interferes with fertility is not a good candidate for supplementation, IMV. Eat too many apples, cranberries or prunes and your body will respond badly and appropriately. Another way to overcome the estrogen pathway of pregnenolone is to add pickled common white mushrooms to your daily diet. They inhibit the production of aromatase that coverts testosterone to estrogen. Stinging nettle will also inhibit SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). For males, after that its exercise and lifestyle. Lay off the alcohol. Get plenty of sleep. Run or bike or lift or yoga every day if you can. 50mg/day of DHEA is a cheap alternative too, but probably unnecessary if you are 20-40 yrs old. . 🙂

  • 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.

  • Anonymous

    if you don’t recommend labrada labs, which is a brand that you approve of?

  • 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.

    1. Kieron Teague

      Acualy Charles savoie It is from rosemary leaf extract.

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

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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?

    1. Nattha Wannissorn


  • Bob

    If it can damage your DNA why would you want to use it self hacked

    1. Nattha Wannissorn

      Well, the sun also damages your DNA but you want to be in the sun.

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