Ribose to the Rescue

Ribose to the Rescue

Julian Whitaker, MD

Nancy Moody began experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia at the age of 9. For almost four decades, she saw a never-ending chain of doctors and specialists who told her the same thing: Her symptoms were all in her head. Her chronic pain and fatigue were so debilitating that some days she couldn’t muster the strength to get up in the morning, and she often needed the help of her husband and children just to sit up in bed. Her muscles ached and burned, her body was bloated, she couldn’t sleep at night, and she was completely devoid of energy. In an attempt to mitigate her symptoms, Nancy tried everything from cortisone shots in her back to pain and sleeping pills, but nothing gave her relief.

Then she started taking ribose. Three days later, she was able to sit up in bed by herself, and after just five days, her pain, swelling, burning, bloating, and aching were gone. Now, more than two years later, Nancy emphatically states, “I haven’t felt this good since I was 9. I feel absolutely fantastic. My husband calls it my “miracle drug,” even though it’s not a drug, and I don’t take any other medication. I would love to shake the hand of the man who invented this product. It has given me back life. I sleep better at night and I have no pain. It has been my godsend.”

Ribose 101

Ribose (alpha-D-ribofuranose), a simple, five-carbon sugar, is required in the manufacture of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the fuel that runs the human body. In fact, it is the structural backbone of ATP, driving both its synthesis and recycling. If your cells don’t have enough ribose, they can’t produce enough ATP to meet energy demands. This lack is precisely what happens in conditions such as congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and even exercise-induced fatigue. Your cells simply run out of juice.

Here’s where supplemental ribose comes in. Although ribose synthesis occurs naturally in the cells, energy needs often outpace supplies in hardworking tissues such as the heart and muscles. This is particularly true in people with heart disease or muscle conditions such as fibromyalgia. And while there’s technically no such thing as a ribose deficiency, ribose cannot be stored in cells. Fortunately, when ribose is taken orally, virtually all of it is absorbed and delivered to energy-starved tissues—where, as Nancy will attest, it rapidly and dramatically rebuilds energy reserves.

New Hope for Fibromyalgia

As Nancy’s story clearly indicates, conventional medicine doesn’t have a solution for fibromyalgia. Patients suffering with the fatigue and pain of this chronic condition are often given dangerous drugs—such as sleeping pills, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory drugs—that may help symptoms but do nothing to address the underlying problem. Ribose, on the other hand, boosts energy stores and reduces muscle fatigue and soreness, making it an excellent therapy for this painful condition.

One groundbreaking, yet-to-be published study examined 41 patients previously diagnosed with fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue. They were treated with 5 g of ribose three times a day, and, after just 12 days, 66 percent of them reported significant improvements. Specifically, they were sleeping better and had higher energy, improved mental clarity, less pain, and a better sense of overall well-being.

Restore Energy Levels

Supplementing with ribose can be beneficial for athletes as well. They can speed recovery and lessen the severity of sore muscles by taking 5 g less than 30 minutes before and 5 g more within 30 minutes following strenuous exercise. In addition to shortening recovery time, ribose has also been shown to improve endurance. It must work, because it’s a favorite of marathoners, cyclists, and other athletes.

But the fact of the matter is you don’t have to be an elite athlete or suffer with any of the above conditions to reap the benefits of ribose. Bill, a colleague of mine, swears that taking ribose after a bout of pneumonia perked him right up and got him back in the swing of things. Others claim that it increases their energy level and just plain makes them feel better. I personally use it every day, and I encourage you to do the same.


  • The suggested dose of ribose is 5 g (one heaping teaspoonful) mixed in water, tea, or juice, or sprinkled on foods two to three times a day. Ribose is safe, well tolerated, and has no known drug interactions. Look for it in your health food store or order by calling (800) 810-6655.


  • Hellsten Y, et al. Effect of ribose supplementation on resynthesis of adenine nucleotides after intense intermittent training in humans. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2004 Jan;286(1):R182–188.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Copyright 2006. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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