D-Ribose for Fibromyalgia Helps Reduce Fatigue

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What is D-ribose?

Contrary to popular belief, ribose is not an amino acid/protein. The reason it’s used in bodybuilding supplements is because it’s believed to support energy production in the muscles. Ribose is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) that’s similar to glucose, except it’s made with 5 carbon atoms instead of 6. The molecular formula for D-ribose is C5H10O5 and glucose is C6H12O6

The backbone of one less carbon atom also means fewer hydrogen and oxygen atoms are attached. This results in a different shape for ribose versus other simple sugars, like glucose and fructose which are larger. Unlike those which are oxidized to create energy, our bodies use the smaller ribose molecule for different purposes.

Ribose is also found in RNA (ribonucleic acid). RNA acts as a messenger of genetic information. RNA replicates fragments of encoded DNA and delivers them, so their instructions can be carried out.

How Ribose Improves Your Daily Energy

Ribose is a simple, five-carbon sugar that is found naturally in our bodies. But ribose is not like any other sugar. Other sugars are used by the body as fuel, where they are “burned” by the body to recycle energy. But because they are used excessively, they are toxic.

However, the body treats ribose differently and preserves it for the vital work of actually making the energy molecule that powers our hearts, muscles, brains, and every other tissue in the body. Research has repeatedly shown that giving ribose to energy-deficient hearts and muscles stimulates energy recovery. A recent study showed that in people with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, ribose increased energy an average of 45% in just 3 weeks.

D-Ribose for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are debilitating syndromes that are often associated with impaired cellular energy metabolism. As D-ribose has been shown to increase cellular energy synthesis in heart and skeletal muscle, this open-label uncontrolled pilot study was done to evaluate if D-ribose could improve symptoms in fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome patients.

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

One small syudy published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that d-ribose supplementation significantly improved symptoms of these conditions, including:

  • >Increasing energy levels
  • >Improving sleep quality
  • >Improving mental clarity
  • >Lowering pain intensity
  • >Improving overall well being

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

D-ribose is much safer and useful.

The idea of utilising D-ribose as an energy source for chronic fatigue syndrome dates back to 2006. D-ribose is a type of sugar with five carbon atoms that serves as one of the basic ingredients required to produce cellular energy. It aids in the production of ‘nucleic acids’ like NADH, ATP which are further required to prepare genetic material like DNA, RNA.

D-ribose is considered as limiting factor for the development of these products; increase in this sugar type leads to increase in NADH, ATP. This sugar is intricately involved in the production of cellular energy (ATP) and muscle recovery, both of which are impaired in chronic fatigue syndrome. Since D-ribose is a type of sugar, would any sugar help?

In case of fainting or exhaustion, a glucose based drink is provided as an immediate energy source. But we are aware that excess consumption of sugar can pave the way for obesity, metabolic diseases, and cancer owing to its fructose content. Therefore on a therapeutic level and as an ergogenic aid, researchers have found D-ribose much safer and useful.

D-Ribose Accelerates Energy Recovery

D-ribose (which is what I am referring to when I say ribose) is a simple, five-carbon sugar (known as a pentose by biochemists) that is found naturally in our bodies. But ribose is not like any other sugar. Sugars we are all familiar with, such as table sugar (sucrose), corn sugar (glucose), milk sugar (lactose), honey (predominantly fructose), and others are used by the body as fuel.

These sugars are consumed and, with the help of the oxygen we breathe, are “burned” by the body to recycle energy. Because they are used excessively, they can also be toxic, as we’ve discussed earlier. Ribose, on the other hand, is special. When we consume ribose, the body recognizes that it is different from other sugars and preserves it for the vital work of actually making the energy molecule that powers our hearts, muscles, brains, and every other tissue in the body.

D-ribose increase exercise capacity

D-ribose has been shown to increase exercise capacity and energy following a heart attack, raising questions about whether it can help with exercise tolerance in other instances. It’s been studied for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity in athletes but was found to provide no benefit. So far, 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.

Weight loss

At the University of Nebraska, a clinical study was done using 32 men undergoing endurance training. Over an 8-week period, a ribose drink was pitted against other sports drinks; protein-based and regular sugar-based. Although it didn’t improve body weight, VO2 max or time to exhaustion, its usage did correlate with lower body fat percentage and fat-free mass.

Supplementing with D-ribose to help improve fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue

Even if there is a supply of glucose present to create new ATP, this again is a very slow process. The thought behind supplementing with D-ribose is that this makes D-ribose immediately available to create new ATP. It cuts out the step where the body needs to make D-ribose from glucose and essentially helps with energy recovery.


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Have you tried D-Ribose for fibromyalgia? Leave a comment to share your experience with other fibro fighters


  • D-Ribose For Fibromyalgia Helps Reduce Fatigue via HealthiCulture
  • Featured Image via Salubrainous

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