Many FM & ME/CFS patients in D-ribose study report quality of life improvements

The natural dietary supplement D-ribose – a form of sugar essential to fuel cellular energy generation – "significantly reduced clinical symptoms in patients suffering from Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," a Texas-based research group reported.

Their study – "The Use of D-Ribose in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia" – headed by internationally recognized FM/CFS Doctor Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, was published in the November 2006 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.*

Key Findings

Of 41 study participants diagnosed with ME/CFS and/or FM who received D-ribose supplementation daily for four weeks, 66 percent achieved “significant improvements in quality of life," the report states. Change was measured using patients' before-and-after visual analog scale (VAS) scores for energy, sleep, mental clarity, pain intensity, and well-being, as well as global quality of life assessments.

Key findings for the patients who perceived significant change included:

• 45 percent average improvement in energy score

• 30 percent average improvement in overall well-being

These findings are considered statistically significant (P < 0.0001), meaning the probability they were owing to chance is less than 1 in 1,000. In particular, the report indicates, patients tended to perceive improved "ability to overcome fatigue," as well as less muscle soreness and stiffness. And supplementation with the natural substance D-ribose was "tolerated well."

Study Details

The study was open label and uncontrolled, meaning all participants took D-ribose, no patients were given a placebo, or "fake" dose as a means of comparison, and no subjects with normal health were included as a means of comparison. Termed a "feasibility" study, the research involved a small number of patients, as a possible preliminary to more extensive investigation. Of the 41 patients, 78 percent were female and their average age was 48. They took five grams of D-ribose by mouth three times a day for an average of 28 days.

What is D-ribose?

D-ribose, also called “ribose,” is a form of sugar containing five carbon atoms that all living cells require for creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body's main source of energy. D-ribose is also a crucial component of other important molecules within our cells, such as RNA (ribonucleic acid), and DNA (deoxynbonucleic acid). DNA produces the proteins cells need to function and develop, while RNA provides the instructions for the job.

How is D-ribose Obtained?

Our bodies make D-ribose for use by the cells from glucose – a sugar that contains six carbon atoms, which plants manufacture by the process of photosynthesis. We obtain glucose, also known as "blood sugar," from the fruits, berries, vegetables, and honey we eat. In a glucose-deficient pinch – such as starvation, fasting, or extremely demanding exercise – our liver and even our kidneys may also synthesize glucose from other compounds to provide a source of D-ribose for the cells. But this is an energy-intensive process.

D-ribose has also long been available as a dietary supplement, produced by fermentation of corn syrup. And it can be obtained from some RNA-rich food substances such as brewer's yeast.

What's the Theory of Benefit?

How do the researchers think D-ribose supplementation supports improved ME/CFS and FM patient quality of life? Many scientists have come to believe that "inefficient" or "disordered" cellular metabolism may account for the symptoms of fatigue and muscle pain associated with ME/CFS and FM.

Patients' muscles become "anaerobic" or depleted of oxygen faster than the muscles of normal healthy people. And supplementation with the nutrient D-ribose may represent one avenue for supporting faster regeneration of ATP and healthier metabolism in oxygen-deprived muscle cells.


* To review an abstract of the study report, go to

Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness, disease, or condition. It is very important that you never make any change in your health support plan or regimen without reviewing and discussing it collaboratively with your professional healthcare team.

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