Update 3/21/20. Can ribose help fibromyalgia? Ribose is sugar. We make it and it helps us make energy and form our genetic materials, DNA and RNA. Over the last several years, ribose has been marketed as a treatment for fibromyalgia. I first reviewed ribose in my book on supplements a few years ago. In this ribose review, I'll reveal the clinical evidence for it helping fibromyalgia pain. This review will also address other questions also like how much works, what is the correct dosage and how long does it take to work? Equally important, does ribose have any side effects you should be aware of.
Ribose Fibromyalgia Research
The first report
There are a few ribose fibromyalgia studies. The supplement started getting popular as a natural fibromyalgia remedy back in 2004. It was then that an interesting report of a doctor with fibromyalgia came out. She was a surgeon. After having not having success with physical therapy and pain meds, she started using Ribose.
Why this doctor started taking ribose is unknown because up to this time, ribose was mostly marketed as a heart health supplement.
The brand used was Corvalen Ribose. She took 5 grams twice a day (10 grams total per day). After 2 weeks, she started to notice better sleep and mental alertness. She also noticed a decrease in joint pain and more normal bowel movements. After another 6 weeks, she reported major improvements in her symptoms.
But, here's where things get interesting…
A month later, the doctor decided to stop using the supplement to see what happened. Within 1 week, her fibromyalgia symptoms started to return. She then started Corvalen ribose brand again, taking again (10 grams a day) and within 2 weeks her fibromyalgia symptoms started to get better again.
To further test if the supplement was really helping her, after 30 days, she again stopped taking the supplement. Soon afterward, her fibromyalgia symptoms reappeared once again. Again, she went back on the supplement and her symptoms subsided.
How is she doing today? That's not known. Reports or updates on how this doctor is doing today cannot be located. As far as we know she is still taking the Corvalen supplement.
Ribose Fibromyalgia Research Video
Watch this video I created about the ribose research
Watch on my Youtube Channel if you prefer
Does Ribose Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Study 1
In one investigation, researchers recruited 41 people with fibromyalgia and /or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Most of the people in the study were women, which is good because most people with fibromyalgia are female. The peopled took 15 grams of Corvalen ribose per day for 1 month and completed before and after questionnaires to determine their improvements.
By the end of the month, 23 out of the 35 people (65.7%) reported that ribose helped them feel better. The responses on questionnaires ranged from “somewhat better” to “much better”. The researchers report that ribose caused a “significant improvement” in energy, sleep, mental clarity, pain intensity, and well-being. They also said they felt overall better too.
This investigation is interesting however there was no placebo group. This is a shortcoming of the study. Also, two of the researchers in this study were either an employee or consultant of the company (Valen Labs) that makes the Corvalen supplement used (now owned by Douglas Labs).
The lead investigator had no connection to the company and he donated his compensation to charity.
Chronic Fatigue Study 2
In a larger study, 235 people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia were given 5 grams of Corvalen ribose for 3 weeks. It was reported that the supplement significantly improved energy, mental clarity, sleep quality and overall well-being. One potential issue with this study is that there was no placebo group.
Ribose Fibromyalgia Research Summary
Here's a breakdown of the research so far:
- A report from a doctor (1 person)
- The study involving 41 people
- The study involving 235 people
Given the significance of this, it's odd no other clinical studies can be located.
Ribose Pro and Con
How Does It Work?
No mechanism of action has been given so it's not known how it works. On the website of the company that makes Corvalen supplement they say it “helps your body make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the cell”.
Ribose does help us make ATP, our main energy molecule. At least one study has noted that elevated ATP may be linked to fibromyalgia pain. Conversely, another study found that those with fibromyalgia had lower ATP levels inside blood platelets. Still, others think magnesium is linked to fibromyalgia.
The bottom line is that nobody knows what causes fibromyalgia or how this supplement seems to help.
How Much Works?
From the investigations so far the sweet spot dosage is between 5-15 grams per day. In studies where 15 grams were used, the ribose was split into 3 different doses, taken three times a day. If you've never taken this supplement before, take less for the first week to see if you have any side effects.
What's The Best Type?
The reports use the Corvalen brand. That's likely because the company that makes it has supported research on their supplement. Since that brand has the proof, that's what I would start with. It's possible however other brands may work as well.
How Long Before It Starts Working?
If it's going to work, you should start to notice improvements in about 1 month.
What Does The “D” Mean?
Another name for this supplement is D-Ribose. The D is a science reference. It means the molecule is dextrorotatory or right-handed. For most people, this is just trivia Whether or not your supplement has the D in the name does not matter. They are the same.
Does It Do Anything Else?
Some speculate it may improve exercise due to its ability to reduce free radical damage. Research, however, seems to show it doesn't work
Preliminary evidence suggests ribose may help the heart pump blood better. Better research needs to be performed. Those with heart disease need to talk to their doctor first to get the best health advice.
Ribose Side Effects
Generally, this supplement is considered safe. Side effects in healthy people are not often reported. When side effects are reported they are usually mild, consisting of GI problems and headaches. No study has reported weight gain.
That said here are some things to consider when using this product. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than recommended for the first week. Just in case you have side effects
- Stop taking the supplement at least 2 weeks before surgery
- Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you have heart problems, talk to your doctor first
- Ribose may lower blood sugar. This can cause hypoglycemia.
- Talk to your doctor if you have diabetes or take diabetes medications
Does Ribose Work?
Based on the evidence, ribose may help some people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms. I have personally met some people who said ribose helped and others who said it didn't. Given only a few studies exist, this topic is wide open for more comprehensive investigations
I have just started taking Viridian Qi- Ribose, with added magnesium and Malic Acid. It seems to be helping, especially with my sleep pattern…I take a teaspoon 1hr before bed. Watch this space to see how it helps with my Fibro in other ways
Thanks Pam, I hope it helps you. keep us posted.
Hi Joe, I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome 5 years ago which causes chronic fatigue, then a year later diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My Rheumatologist has never suggested any supplements to the prescription I am taking so I’ve done a lot of research and added supplements on my own. I just read about D-Ribose last week and ordered it immediately. I do take Nucigil which helps keep me awake all day, but am hoping D-Ribose will help with energy. I’ll check back with you to let you know how I’m doing.
Hi Debi, yes please let us know D-ribose works out for you. I’ll look forwarding to hearing what happens.
I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue a year ago (not fibro) and have been researching to find out what has been discovered about what helps. My main symptoms are muscle exhaustion after even short amounts of exercise, fogged head and overall malaise. I came upon this research (see http://www.meassociation.org.uk/2012/07/research-multi-centre-trial-treatment-of-cfs-and-fibromyalgia-with-d-ribose-4-july-2012/) and began using D-ribose.
The brand I went for was Solgar as they have a proven track record of producing only high quality supplements. Within days, I felt as though I had more energy – both mental and physical than I’ve had in a year! Over the month I’ve been taking it, this has maintained (I take 2 teaspoons morning and lunch).
Given that D-Ribose is an expensive product, I tried cheaper brands (DN) and really noticed a drop in effect within hours. To conclude: D-ribose is not a magical cure, but, for me, has significantly relieved some very disabling symptoms.
Hi Kate, thanks so much for sharing that study. I have updated my review to include it. I’m also glad to hear that the Solgar brand of Ribose is helping you. Corvalen sometimes seems to get a lot of the attention but I’ve met people who have had benefits with other brands.
Keep us posted if you turn up any other studies too 🙂
I am really interested in trying this, but also anxious because sugar is actually a trigger for my fibro. When you ribose is basically sugar it sounds like it would actually make symptoms worse. Cleaning up my diet has helped me considerably, but I’ve been in a lot of pain lately and the brain fog is coming back. Anyone that has used diet to manage symptoms try this? Thanks.
Hi Lisa, Ribose is a different type of sugar than glucose or sugar in foods. while I don’t believe ribose will raise your blood sugar levels, why don’t you try asking your pharmacist. While I am still intrigued by the research, I do wish there was more out there. Some people with fibro have told me it helped and others said it didn’t.
Palmira A. says
I recently purchased the JARROW formulas D-Ribose. One tablet contains 1g of d-ribose 1g sugar and 1g carbohydrates. The directions say to take 1-6 I think big difference. I haven’t started, because I can’t figure out how much to take.
I’ve always had a weak stomach and now even more with fibromyalgia. That’s why I got chewable tablets, I figure it will b resolved before it enters my stomach 🙂 irk if that would make a difference. But any ways I will see how it goes.
Hi Palmira, you are right that IS a big range to take! For things you have not taken before, I often recommend starting at the least dose possible for the first week and then slowly increasing it. For this, it would be 1g.
Interesting post. I have just started a d ribose trial for chronic fatigue (not cfs).
am surprised to read how little this has been researched especially considering the amount of positive comments from fibromyalgia/cfs sufferers. The lack of placebo control in that 41 patient study is a little suspicious. Just makes me think that the company who did the research don’t feel the need to do a full study – either because it’s unnecessary for them to keep the money coming in or because they may get found out.
On the other hand all the possible sufferers who say ribose has changed their life seems hard to ignore – so where are the independent studies? It’s an expensive supplement so if it does work for cfs/fibromyalgia patients then there would be a moral duty to make it available on prescription which would make it much cheaper for people due to demand.
I will try the ribose for 2-3 weeks and post back results from my perspective. Just to clarify I have long term chronic fatigue (5 years) and depression but have not been diagnosed with either fibromyalgia or cfs.
Hi paul, I agree I wish there were more studies on ribose. I hope it does help you and will look forward to learning how it worked in a few weeks.
I have been taking Ribose for the last week and have not had any fibro pain, and that has made me less drained of energy. I haven’t found it helps me sleep any better yet. I missed a dose yesterday morning and couldn’t get home until my 2nd dose was scheduled. The pain started up in the evening and returned tonight. It proved to me, like the case study, that its working. I know after a few more days of consistency i will be feeling better again. To anyone with fibro….you have to give it a try, i wish i would have heard of it sooner.
Crystal, really happy ribose is helping you.
Joe, thanks for putting this info together. I took one dose of 2 grams D Ribose at around 6pm. Noticed nothing, but a few hours later I was unable to sleep, jittery, and when I did get to sleep, had night sweats. I had bought the pills at Whole Foods and they were very nice about taking them back and refunding my money.
Ellen, thanks for the feedback. I am glad Whole Foods gave you your money back. While I usually would not recommend taking any new supplement close to bed time, has anyone else noticed ribose kept them awake at night?
Hi there all just t say tht its recommended that u detox yr body first for best results this is probably why its not worked for some hope this helps lok up on dr jacob teitlbaum protocol befor u start Ive not started mine yet as researching first will gt bk to u all on my progress good luck all
Jacqueline, just a heads up that when you search for a detox, the people should tell you what you are actually ridding your body of. If you don’t know what substances you are detoxing, then you wont know if it actually worked or not.
Gail Linville says
I had never heard of ribose even though I have had fibro for years, and thought I was “keeping up” on all the latest info.
I watched a neurologist who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia on Dr Oz and I ordered Ribose from Vitacost that same day.
It arrived today and I took my first “dose.” Shortly after, I noticed a very faint, slight head-ache which I was aware could happen. I also noticed an increase in energy, comparable to 2-3 cups of strong coffee.
I will continue this journey and report back in a week or two.
Gail, keep me posted on how you are doing with it.
Gail Linville says
Sorry, its been awhile since I’ve checked in. I stayed on the Ribose for about a year. It seemed to really help my energy levels and decrease my extreme fatigue, for awhile. I noticed that these effects started to diminish over time and I did eventually stop taking it.
Gail, thanks for the follow up. That’s so interesting how its effects seemed to go away after awhile. I will ask around to see if anyone else had similar experiences.
Amy follow-up ? I have been diagnose with fibro/cfs recently
It only been a year I have developed this
My fibro has been debilitating, especially through the changing seasons the last few weeks. I just discovered ribose last week. After reading a few articles I decided to order the ribose from Swanson Vitamins. I’ve only been taking it for a few days so I can’t testify to the long haul, but the improvement has been dramatic. My brain fog and fatigue are gone.
I’ve been sleeping much better, and I didn’t wake up stiff and exhausted. I’ve been able to do my normal exercise routine without crashing in exhaustion afterwards. I read in an article to start with 5 grams 3x day for 2-3 weeks and then move to 2x day. So I’m still taking 3x a day right now. I am really hoping this will continue to help, I really want to get my life back!
Shannon that’s great news so far! Hopefully you continue to see good results. Do let me know what happens in a couple of weeks 🙂
Checking back in- after about 4 months I was nearly pain free. I actually forgot to take it every day. Since then, I once went two weeks without and started getting stiff and pain again- realized I hadn’t been taking the Ribose and got back on it daily.
Now I have been able to exercise with just the normal muscle soreness and it has been fantastic. But I do know that if I increase activity, I require more Ribose in my routine. Is there any evidence that one can eventually no longer need to take it?
Shannon, that’s fantastic! As for research on how long one might need to take ribose, Im not sure. I haven’t seen any good research on this since I wrote my review (I have a google alert set up for this to keep tabs on it). I have heard that eventually fibromyalgia goes away for some people. How long that might be I don’t know. You might try experimenting with taking a little less and see what happens. If your pain is still less, then try reducing it more. I wish I had a good answer for you on this. The fact that you say you are almost pain free with ribose is really great news Shannon 🙂
Jenn Miller says
I had gastric bypass surgery any 2 years ago. The doctors said it would help w the fibro pain. I was fat but no where near the people you see on the shows. In fact most pool said” why you are not even that big ” when I told them I was having it done. My only reason for having it done was to help w my fibro pain. I was assured by the dr it would help.
Well instead it did the exact opposite. I am in 150 percent worse pain. I did lose 130 lbs. I kept it off but I felt so much better heavy. So weight loss does not always help fibro pain.
My question is can I take this product even w having gastric bypass. I saw you say it was a singer I am allowed 8 grms at a time so I can do the math but did you see anything abt not taking it after gbs??? BTW love this site 😉
Jenn, I dont see why you cant take ribose but since you are limited to what you can eat at one time, you’ll probably have to take less than most people. I dont want you to use ribose at the expense of the nutrients you need. Until your email I’d never heard of weight loss surgery to help with fibromyalgia but a quick check online and there are those who say its helped. Sorry it didn’t help you – and that it made your fibromyalgia worse.
BTW congrats on maintaining your 130 pound weight loss. That is quite an achievement for anyone.
Sally murray says
Hi I and my 14 yr old son have fibro , his pain and fog is severe and I’m worried about school. Before this he was top of the class and is very smart. We live in the uk and the doctors can give him no pain assistance. I will try anything so I’m wondering what dose for him and will it gain weight as he is a little tubby already with lack of movement
Sally, I have never heard of people gaining weigh with ribose so I dont think that will be a problem. Start with less than is recommended for the first week, just to see if there any side effects. I dont think there will be. Ive experimented with ribose myself and dont notice anything out of the ordinary. If it helps your./your sons fibro I hope you will let me know. I really want this post to be able to help people find answers about whether ribose might help them or not.
Five grams of ribose contains about 20 calories. Taking a 15g/day dose would mean an extra 60 calories per day. This is unlikely to cause significant weight gain by itself.
Sadie, that is a good point. Thanks for sharing that.
My fancy doctor put me on Corvalen, as well as some other stuff, and I have to say, my energy levels have improved and my pain has decreased in all but my worst spot. Still have some lingering aphasia, but I feel pretty clear headed most of the time. I’ve been on the Corvalen about 2 months, and expect to continue to improve.
I like the taste of the powder in water, which tells me this is something my body WANTS. I also get a Myers cocktail every few weeks, which is mainly magnesium with some Bs and C. I notice my feet don’t hurt when I get that regularly.
This doctor also wants to have my mercury fillings removed, which is alright with me as I used to get sick whenever I got immunizations – before the mercury was removed from all of them. Plus they are ugly…
Thanks for covering this issue and supplement!
Jinxed, thanks for the feedback. I’m glad Corvalen etc is helping your fibromyalgia 🙂
Wow, this is good info. I have had fibromyalgia for over 20 years and have tried most prescription meds and supplements available. My son told me about the D-ribose. I have only been taking it for two days and am looking forward to some positive results. I was diagnosed at about age 35 and am now 59. It has gotten progressively worse and the prescriptions only made me gain weight.
i am glad I found your information because I was only taking it once per day and now I know I need more. Thanks.
Deborah, thanks I am glad you found me and I really do hope ribose helps your fibromyalgia. I hope you will keep me posted on what happens. I’m really curious.
r walker says
Thank you for this discussion. In the past I did have a significant case of fibromyalgia and somehow managed to resolve it (I’m not sure exactly how) after it ran for about 6 years. Of course I am concerned that someday, it might return.
R walker, Ive heard that eventually fibromyalgia seems to get better. how long “eventually” is I don’t know. I can imagine the emotional burden of wondering if you might get it back again. Im not an expert on if you might get it again (ask a rheumatologist to be sure) but I feel that if you stay healthy -including dealing well with emotional stress and getting enough sleep – that the odds are low. Speak to your doctor about this. At the very least, this might help you reduce your stress over this.
I use Puritan’s Pride D-Ribose capsules (powders aren’t practical for me) for fibromyalgia. Each capsule is 850mg. I take 3 capsules most mornings (after experimenting to find the smallest amount I still felt a moderate improvement from, due to budget constraints), and add 1, 2, or 3 more on some days when I expect to need an extra boost.
The effects for me are a clear consistent increase in alertness, energy, and exertion capacity.