D-ribose is a supplement sometimes recommended as a treatment for people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Also known as ribose or Beta-D-ribofuranose, it is a sugar your body produces naturally and is readily available in supplement form.
D-ribose plays several important roles in your body, such as:
- Helps generate energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
- As part of the genetic material RNA (ribonucleic acid)
- Helps increase your muscle energy
As with most supplements, we don’t have enough high-quality research to draw many conclusions about it as a treatment for these conditions.
D-Ribose for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
We have few studies on d-ribose supplementation for fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Still, some health care providers recommend it, and some people with these conditions say it’s an effective part of their treatment regimen.
A small study published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine It was concluded that d-ribose supplementation significantly improved symptoms of these diseases, including:
- increase energy levels
- Improve sleep quality
- Improve thinking clarity
- reduce pain intensity
- Improve overall well-being
However, this work is preliminary and we need more studies to confirm these findings, including larger studies.
It’s unclear how d-ribose does what it’s ascribed to. For example, low energy in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome is theoretically due to a lack of ATP, but so far we have not had any evidence that d-ribose supplementation can boost ATP.
D-ribose could theoretically increase exercise capacity and energy after a heart attack, raising questions about whether it could help improve exercise tolerance in other conditions. It has been studied to increase high-intensity exercise capacity in athletes, but no benefit has been found. So far, we have had no evidence that d-ribose is effective in post-exercise discomfort (increased symptoms of severe post-exercise), a key symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome.
A 2017 review of dietary modifications for chronic fatigue syndrome published in the Australian and New Zealand Medical Journal noted that d-ribose has had positive results in human trials.
A tiny study suggests that d-ribose reduces symptoms of restless legs syndrome, which is common in people with fibromyalgia.
Again, not enough research has been done, and this does not appear to be an area of continued interest in the research community. Unless interest increases, we may never really know whether d-ribose supplements are a safe and effective treatment for these conditions.
We do not yet have a standard dosage recommendation for d-ribose supplements. In a study on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, participants took a 5-gram dose three times a day.
In some studies of d-ribose in patients with heart failure, researchers used a dose of 15 grams four times a day.
D-ribose supplements are widely available and are usually sold in powder form.
D-ribose in the diet
While some foods contain d-ribose, it is thought to be a form that your body cannot use. This makes supplements a typical way to increase levels.
D-ribose side effects
While supplements are a “natural” remedy, they can still cause adverse effects. Some side effects of d-ribose may include:
- Digestive problems, such as nausea, stomach pain, and diarrhea
- reduce uric acid in the urine or blood of people with kidney disease, which can increase the risk of gout or other kidney problems
- lower blood sugar
Because it lowers blood sugar, d-ribose is not recommended for people with diabetes who take blood sugar-lowering 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 breastfeeding.
Is D-ribose right for you?
If you’re interested in d-ribose helping with your fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re taking it safely.
You may also want to discuss with your pharmacist whether d-ribose can interact with any other substances you are taking.