D-Ribose for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A Type of Sugar

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What it Does:

D-ribose, also called ribose or Beta-D-ribofuranose, is a type of sugar that your body produces naturally. It helps produce energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate.) Medicinally, it's most often used to increase muscle energy and improve exercise performance.

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.

In some illnesses, d-ribose is used to help improve exercise tolerance or prevent post-exercise pain, cramping and stiffness. Some evidence suggests that it's effective in people with conditions that impair the body's ability to produce energy. In people with heart disease, it may also help get energy to the heart during exercise.

For Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

One small study in 2006 concluded that d-ribose supplementation significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, including energy, sleep, mental clarity, pain intensity and well being. This work is preliminary and we need more research to confirm the findings. Meanwhile, some health-care providers recommend it, and some people with these conditions say it is an effective treatment for them.

Some preliminary research shows that d-ribose may lessen symptoms of restless legs syndrome, which is common in people with fibromyalgia.

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 5 grams 3 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:

Side effects may include:

  • Digestive problems, such as nausea, stomach ache and diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Low blood sugar (not recommended for diabetics because it can lower blood sugar too much when combined with medications)

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.

More Supplements for Energy


Pasque MK, Wechsler AS. Metabolic intervention to affect myocardial recovery following ischemia. Annals of Surgery. Jul;200(1):1-12.

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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