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Top 5 Benefits of Ursolic Acid (Explained)

Updated: Aug 15

Evidence-Based. Scientifically Reviewed by Michael Sharpe, MSc.

Ursolic acid is a novel compound found in some supplements, although the research is limited, it does appear to potentially have a wide range of benefits, such as the following.

Ursolic acid supplement on a wooden spoon

1) May Be Anti-Diabetic

Low to moderate dosages of ursolic acid seem to protect rats against diabetes-related immune system side effects, and may provide protection. (1)

It seems to have anti-glycative properties, which might help to reduce the negative consequences of diabetes caused by high blood glucose levels. (1)

Ursolic acid also seems to be useful for lowering blood glucose, either alone or in combination with anti-diabetic medications. (2)

These anti-diabetic effects of ursolic acid may result from its ability to:

  • Decrease blood glucose in a dose-dependant manner and reduce HbA1c

  • Decrease Aldose Reductase activity in a noncompetitive manner

  • Reduces the risk of diabetic nephropathy (possibly due to its anti-inflammatory effects)

2) May Be Anti-Obesity & Improve Weight Loss

Ursolic acid seems to increase energy expenditure due to both an increase in muscle growth and brown fat. (3)

An increase of brown fat and a reduction of white fat increases the basal metabolic rate of the body. Brown fat also helps control blood sugar levels and improves insulin resistance. (4)

Ursolic acid can also increase circulating levels of irisin, a hormone which has many effects in the body, also resulting in an anti-obesity and anti-diabetic action. (5)

These effects result in an increase in fat loss and reduce the likelihood of obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes.

3) May Increase Muscle Growth

Alongside the increase in irisin, IGF-1 is also increased by supplementing with Ursolic Acid, in relative to baseline. (5)

It also reduces muscle wasting as a result of fasting by increasing anabolic gene transcription. (6)

Ursolic acid may also increase muscle protein synthesis in a dose-dependant manner until a certain dosage is reached, resulting in myotoxicity. (7)

An increase in insulin-induced phosphorylation of Akt and other insulin-related anabolic pathways are also increased. (8)

The result of these effects is increased muscle growth, but only at lower dosages.

4) May Reduce Cortisol

Ursolic acid-like compounds (11-ketoursolic acid and 3-acetyl,11-ketoursolic acid) have been implicated in blocking the 11-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase type 1 enzyme (11HSD1), which converts cortisone to active cortisol. (9)

In theory, ursolic acid may reduce cortisol due this action, but this matter has not been researched enough to conclude anything.

5) May Be Anti-Inflammatory

Ursolic acid has been shown to be useful in the treatment of arthritic ulcers, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The effects of UAA were equivalent to those of dexamethasone. (10)

Research investigated the effects of ursolic acid-3-acetate (UAA), a derivative of ursolic acid, on rheumatoid arthritis and established the underlying mechanism of action. (10)

Clinical arthritic symptoms and serum IgG1 and IgG2a levels were decreased after taking UAA orally.

In draining lymph nodes, UAA treatment inhibited Th1/Th17 phenotype CD4+ T lymphocyte growth and inflammatory cytokine production. (10)

In addition, UAA substantially decreased the expression and production of inflammatory mediators such as cytokines and matrix metalloproteinase-1/3.

UAA also regulated helper T cell immunological responses and matrix-degrading enzymes. (10)

The effects of UAA were equivalent to those of dexamethasone. In conclusion, this research suggests that UAA (and possibly ursolic acid) may be a potent anti-inflammatory.


This section contains links to research, studies, and sources of information for this article, as well as authors, contributors, etc. All sources, along with the article and facts, are subjected to a series of quality, reliability, and relevance checks.

Real Muscle primarily uses high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed publications, to back up the information in our articles. To understand more about how we fact-check and keep our information accurate, dependable, and trustworthy, read more about us.

This evidence based analysis of the benefits of ursolic acid features 10 references, listed below.

1. Sundaresan A, Harini R, Pugalendi KV. Ursolic acid and rosiglitazone combination alleviates metabolic syndrome in high fat diet fed C57BL/6J mice. Gen Physiol Biophys. (2012, Sep) ✔

2. Wang ZH, Hsu CC, Huang CN, Yin MC. Anti-glycative effects of oleanolic acid and ursolic acid in kidney of diabetic mice. Eur J Pharmacol. (2010, Feb 25)✔

3. Kunkel SD, Elmore CJ, Bongers KS, Ebert SM, Fox DK, Dyle MC, et al. Ursolic Acid Increases Skeletal Muscle and Brown Fat and Decreases Diet-Induced Obesity, Glucose Intolerance and Fatty Liver Disease. PLoS ONE. (2012)

4. Paul Cohen, Bruce M. Spiegelman. Brown and Beige Fat: Molecular Parts of a Thermogenic Machine. Diabetes. (2015)

5. Bang HS, Seo DY, Chung YM, Oh KM, Park JJ, Arturo F, Jeong SH, Kim N, Han J. Ursolic Acid-induced elevation of serum irisin augments muscle strength during resistance training in men. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. (2014, Oct)

6. Kunkel SD, Suneja M, Ebert SM, Bongers KS, Fox DK, Malmberg SE, Alipour F, Shields RK, Adams CM. mRNA expression signatures of human skeletal muscle atrophy identify a natural compound that increases muscle mass. Cell Metab. (2011, Jun 8)

7. Figueiredo VC, Nader GA. Ursolic acid directly promotes protein accretion in myotubes but does not affect myoblast proliferation. Cell Biochem Funct. (2012, Jul)

8. Jung SH, Ha YJ, Shim EK, Choi SY, Jin JL, Yun-Choi HS, Lee JR. Insulin-mimetic and insulin-sensitizing activities of a pentacyclic triterpenoid insulin receptor activator. Biochem J. (2007, Apr 15) ✔

9. Rollinger JM, Kratschmar DV, Schuster D, Pfisterer PH, Gumy C, Aubry EM, Brandstötter S, Stuppner H, Wolber G, Odermatt A. 11beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 inhibiting constituents from Eriobotrya japonica revealed by bioactivity-guided isolation and computational approaches. Bioorg Med Chem. (2010, Feb 15)

10. Jong Yeong Lee, Jin Kyeong Choi, Na-Hee Jeong, Jeongsoo Yoo, Yeong Su Ha, Byungheon Lee, Hyukjae Choi, Pil-Hoon Park, Tae-Yong Shin, Taeg Kyu Kwon, Sang-Rae Lee, Soyoung Lee, Seung Woong Lee, Mun-Chual Rho, Sang-Hyun Kim. Anti-inflammatory effects of ursolic acid-3-acetate on human synovial fibroblasts and a murine model of rheumatoid arthritis. International Immunopharmacology. (2017)

Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.


The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.

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