Ursolic acid has medicinal action, both topically and internally. Ursolic acid is used in many cosmetic preparations for its anti-inflammatory, antitumor and antimicrobial properties. Tests have shown that Ursolic acid inhibits the growth of Candida albicans. It has been found to be a trypanocidal agent. It killed all the epimastigotes of T. cruzi and Microsporium lenosum. Topical application of Ursolic acid inhibited TPA-induced initiation and promotion of tumor growth.
Ursolic acid has anti-inflammatory properties and is used in ointments to treat burns. The mechanism of its anti-inflammatory action involves inhibition of histamine release from mast cells. It causes inhibition of LOX and COX, which in turn reduces synthesis, and release of PGE3 and leucotrienes.
Ursolic acid is found to be a hepatoprotective agent. The mechanism of hepatoprotection involves protection against chemically induced liver necrosis, suppression of cytochrome P – 450, inhibition of lipid peroxidation, prevention of fibrosis and stimulation of liver cell regeneration. Ursolic acid causes inhibition of tumor promotion, which is due to inhibition of mutagenicity.
Ursolic acid and 3 – o – acetyl Ursolic acid decreases blood cholesterol, β - lipoproteins and phospholipids in rabbits with experimental atherosclerosis. Acetylation of Ursolic acid at C – 3 enhances anti – hyperlipidemic and anti – atherosclerotic effectiveness.
Ursolic acid is present in many plants, including apples, bilberries, cranberries, elder flower, peppermint, lavender, oregano, thyme, hawthorn, prunes.