D-Ribose for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A Type of Sugar

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D-ribose, also called ribose or Beta-D-ribofuranose, is a type of sugar that your body produces naturally. It plays several important roles in your body, including:

  • it helps produce energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
  • it's a building block of the genetic material RNA (ribonucleic acid)
  • increasing muscle energy
  • improving exercise capacity and energy following a heart attack

It's been studied for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity in athletes but was found to provide no benefit.

As with most supplements, we don't have enough high-quality research to draw a lot of conclusions about it.

D-Ribose for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

We have very little research on d-ribose supplementation for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Still, some health-care providers recommend it, and some people with these conditions say it is an effective treatment for them.

One small study in 2006 concluded that d-ribose supplementation significantly improved symptoms of these conditions, including:

  • energy
  • sleep
  • mental clarity
  • pain intensity
  • well being

However, this work is preliminary and we need more research to confirm the findings.

Some research suggests that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome both involve deficiencies in ATP, but the supplement has not been proven effective at boosting ATP in these conditions.

We don't have evidence one way or the other whether d-ribose is effective against post-exertional malaise (a severe symptom increase after exercise), which is a key symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome.

One extremely small study suggests that d-ribose may lessen symptoms of restless legs syndrome, which is common in people with fibromyalgia.

Again, not nearly enough research has been done before we really know whether d-ribose can help and how much.

D-Ribose Dosage

We don't yet have a standard dosing recommendation for d-ribose supplements.

In the study on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, participants took five grams three times a day.

Some studies of people with coronary artery disease have used 15 grams 4 times a day.

D-ribose supplements are typically sold in powder form.

D-Ribose in Your Diet

Foods don't actually contain free d-ribose, so supplementation is the typical way to increase levels.

Your body uses vitamin B-12 to produce it, so a B-12 deficiency could contribute to a d-ribose deficiency.

Side Effects of D-Ribose

While supplements are a "natural" treatment, they can still cause unwanted effects. Some of these side effects may include:

  • digestive problems, such as nausea, stomach ache and diarrhea
  • headache
  • lowering uric acid in urine or blood in people with kidney disorders, which raises risk of gout or other kidney problems
  • lowering blood sugar

Because it can lower blood sugar, d-ribose is not recommended for diabetics who are on medications that lower their blood sugars.

D-ribose is generally considered safe for short-term use.

So far, we don't have much safety information about long-term use or use during pregnancy and breast feeding.

Is D-Ribose Right for You?

If you're interested in d-ribose to help treat your fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, be sure to talk to your doctor to make sure you're taking it safely.

You may also want to speak to a pharmacist about whether it could interact negatively with anything else you're taking.


Gerdle B, Forsgren MF, Bengtsson A, et al. Decreased muscle concentrations of ATP and PCR in the quadriceps muscle of fibromyalgia patients--a 31P-MRS study. European journal of pain. 2013 Sep;17(8):1205-15.

Myhill S, Booth NE, McLaren-Howard J. Targeting mitochondrial dysfuction in the treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) - a clinical audit. International journal of clinical and experimental medicine. 2013;6(1):1-15.

Shecterle L, Kasubick R, St Cyr J. D-ribose benefits restless legs syndrome Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2008 Nov;14(9):1165-6.

Teitelbaum JE, Johnson C, St Cyr J. The use of D-ribose in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia: a pilot study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2006 Nov;12(9):857-62.

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