Supplements companies market ursolic acid as a bodybuilding supplement. And with reason, for animal studies show that the compound, which occurs naturally in apple skins, stimulates the development and growth of muscle cells. But the scientists who discovered the anabolic effect of malol, another name for ursolic acid, have now produced a new study which shows that the compound also stimulates fat burning and boosts endurance capacity. Ursolic acid is a universal sports supplement.
The researchers who made these discoveries have set up a small company called Emmyon that, according to the website, which is still under construction, will focus on ways to stop muscle decay. [emmyon.com] In addition, the researchers have filed for a patent on the use of ursolic acid as a muscle strengthener. If the patent has been approved all those amazingly interesting supplements containing ursolic acid may well disappear from the webshops. And this stockpiling tip comes to you completely free of charge from ErgoLog.
In June 2012 molecular scientists at the University of Iowa published an animal study that contained substantial amounts of data in PLoS One. The publication also provided the reasoning behind the patent application that’s awaiting approval.
In the study the Americans gave mice food consisting of 55 percent fat [HFD] for six weeks. A diet like this makes mice put on weight fast and their condition declines too. If the animals were given ursolic acid [UA] in their food – 0.14 percent seems to be the optimal concentration – their muscles became bigger and stronger. The synthesis of IGF-1 and VEGF and the concentration of phosphorylated Akt in their muscle cells increased.
When the researchers made the mice run to the point of exhaustion they noticed that ursolic acid supplementation had improved the mice’s endurance capacity. Nevertheless, ursolic acid did not have a stimulatory effect: neither heart rate nor blood pressure of the UA-group mice increased.
At the same time ursolic acid inhibited the increase in body weight and the growth of fat tissues. It boosted the energy consumption by stimulating the growth of brown fat tissue and also inhibiting the growth of white fat tissue. Brown fat tissue can burn fat and convert it into heat; white adipose tissue doesn’t do this.
It’s still too early to stay to what extent ursolic acid stimulates the breakdown of fat tissue in humans. Children still have large quantities of brown fat, but the amount decreases as adulthood arrives. Adults do still have brown adipose tissue, and the amount can increase, for example through exposure to cold temperatures. But it’s not clear whether adults have enough brown fat tissue to have a metabolic effect.
“If ursolic acid has similar effects in mice and humans, then ursolic acid and/or structural analogs might be useful therapeutic agents for a number of increasingly common metabolic disorders, including skeletal muscle atrophy, obesity, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”, the researchers conclude.