You know what they say about an apple a day, right?
Well, emerging research on a compound found in the skin of apples could help explain why that Red Delicious could indeed help you steer clear of your doctor’s office.
It turns out that the apple peels are naturally loaded with a substance called ursolic acid (UA) that could become an important ally in fighting…
- and aging (no more scrawny “old person” muscles!).
How’s THAT for an impressive healing resume?
Fight cancer with “Garden of Eden” fruit
Experts say the natural anti-inflammatory could turn out to be an important cancer-fighting tool.1,2,3
Researchers theorize the natural apple compound likely works its anticancer magic by helping to suppress tumor-promoting genes and inhibiting the production of cancer cells.4,5 And studies have found UA is a team player too, enhancing the effects of some mainstream cancer treatments.
For example, when researchers tested UA in the lab on four cancer cell lines the extract did stop cancer cells, halting their spread as well as killing them. But the extract benefits didn’t end there. The researchers report the ursolic acid also enhanced the effects of the cancer drug oxaliplatin.
The UA worked with the oxaliplatin to keep drug-resistant colorectal tumors from growing, while fighting off some of the worst side effects of the medication at the same time. The ursolic acid restored the liver function in mice treated with the drug, and helped them regain the weight they had lost, according to the research published in the journal Protein & Cell.6
Beef up your muscles with an apple extract
Ursolic acid could also become a key player in fighting one of the most devastating parts of aging, the muscle wasting that can sideline you and keep you from participating in all the things you love to do.
A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that ursolic acid could be an antidote for the type of muscle atrophy that’s seen with prolonged illness or even just normal aging.7
Researchers from the University of Iowa isolated 63 muscle-related genes that change in response to fasting in both mice and humans and an additional 29 that also change in people who have spinal-cord injuries.
When they compared the unique signatures of those genes to cells that were treated with 1,300 bioactive small molecules, ursolic acid emerged as the possible winner against muscle atrophy.
Next, the scientists gave the acid to mice on a forced fast. As they had predicted, the compound protected the muscles of the fasting mice against the normal muscle weakening.
But when the researchers added ursolic acid to the feed of normal mice for several weeks they had some entirely unexpected results. Amazingly, the muscles of the mice began to grow! It’s as if they had the “teenage” muscles of their youth back.
And the surprises didn’t end there. Blood sugar, cholesterol and trigleceride levels fell and the mice also became leaner… dropping fat (more on that effect in a moment).
Experts say that UA helps increase muscle mass by enhancing the hormone IGF-1. In a study, published in the Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, volunteers took 150 mg of ursolic acid three times a day for eight weeks while doing resistance training. The supplement boosted their circulating IGF-1 by a remarkable 22.8 percent.8
Lose weight with ursolic acid
And the ursolic acid benefits don’t stop there. Multitasking UA could turn out to be an easy way to shed some extra weight too. Researchers say UA triggers muscle activity so your muscles literally burn through more calories without you lifting an extra finger.
In an animal study, pudgy mice who were being fed a high-fat diet effortlessly slimmed down when they were given a ursolic acid supplement. The critters who got the supplement had an increase in muscle growth, muscle activity and fat-burning brown fat, which led to better blood sugar numbers and weight loss.9
You can increase the ursolic acid in your own diet by munching on more apples. Just be sure you’re choosing an organic variety. Prunes, cranberries, basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme also contain some UA. Or for an even bigger boost you can look for a ursolic acid supplement.
It’s true that the research on uroslic acid is still in its early stages, but what we know so far is already very exciting. And it’s starting to look like fighting cancer, aging and obesity might just be the tip of the iceberg. So why wait? Ramp up the UA-rich foods in your diet and start reaping the rewards of this “Garden of Eden” extract right away.
1. “Ursolic acid in cancer prevention and treatment: molecular targets, pharmacokinetics and clinical studies,” Biochem Pharmacol. 2013 Jun 1;85(11):1579-87
2. “Down-Regulation of AKT Signalling by Ursolic Acid Induces Intrinsic Apoptosis and Sensitization to Doxorubicin in Soft Tissue Sarcoma,” PLoS One. 2016; 11(5): e0155946
3. “Ursolic acid exerts anti-cancer activity by suppressing vaccinia-related kinase 1-mediated damage repair in lung cancer cells.,” Sci Rep. 2015 Sep 28;5:14570
4. “Epigenetic modifications of triterpenoid ursolic acid in activating Nrf2 and blocking cellular transformation of mouse epidermal cells,” J Nutr Biochem. 2016 Jul;33:54-62
5. “Epigenetic modifications of triterpenoid ursolic acid in activating Nrf2 and blocking cellular transformation of mouse epidermal cells,” July 2016Volume 33, Pages 54–62
6. “Ursolic acid synergistically enhances the therapeutic effects of oxaliplatin in colorectal cancer,” Protein & Cell, August 2016, Volume 7, Issue 8, pp 571–585
7. “mRNA expression signatures of human skeletal muscle atrophy identify a natural compound that increases muscle mass,” Cell Metab. 2011 Jun 8;13(6):627-38
8. “Ursolic Acid-induced elevation of serum irisin augments muscle strength during resistance training in men,” Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2014 Oct;18(5):441-6
9. “Ursolic Acid Increases Skeletal Muscle and Brown Fat and Decreases Diet-Induced Obesity, Glucose Intolerance and Fatty Liver Disease,” PLoS One. 2012; 7(6): e39332
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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