Ask Dr. H: Using D-Ribose for fibromyalgia

Posted: April 11, 2011

Question: What is your opinion on taking D-Ribose for fibromyalgia?

Answer: D-Ribose is one of those supplements that have garnered a lot of attention recently. D-Ribose is a 5-carbon sugar (unlike 6-carbon glucose sugar) directly involved in the production of "ATP," the fuel that every cell in the body uses for its energy production. D-Ribose doesn't raise blood sugar; rather it's directly converted to ATP. It can even lower blood sugar a bit.

Supporters of D-Ribose claim it decreases pain, improves mental clarity, increases energy, improves stamina, creates an improved sense of well-being, and strengthens heart performance. Uses for D-Ribose range from folks with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia to athletes looking to improve their exercise endurance. It may also be helpful, in theory, to those who experience muscle aches and pains as a side effect of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

While there are many anecdotal claims about D-Ribose benefits, there isn't much in the way of double-blinded placebo-controlled research out there that tests it against a dummy pill or powder. I have not yet recommended it to my patients, but it does seem safe enough to recommend to select patients who have not responded to other treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia pain, or cholesterol-medicine weakness and pain. The recommended dosage is 5 grams (powder dissolved in liquid) two to three times daily with meals. Two reputable brands I've found are Corvalen and Life Extension D-Ribose.

Diverticulosis doesn't raise colon-cancer risk

Q: I have occasional bouts with diverticulitis. Is there any connection between diverticulosis and an increased risk of my getting colon cancer?

A: Diverticulosis may cause periodic painful infections of the colon that we call "diverticulitis." It may cause you to pass lots of gas, and it may increase the risk of bleeding from one of the blood vessels that supply the colon's wall. But rest assured it will not increase your chance of getting colon cancer.

You're on the right track in that both colon cancer and diverticular disease have a projection of colon tissue in common. But whereas colon cancer nearly always begins from the continued growth of a precancerous colon polyp projecting into the bowel's digestive tube, diverticulosis is the result of numerous tiny fingerlike outpocketings or sacs that balloon out through the colon's muscular wall.

Colon cancer is a complex illness with multiple causes - including genetics; family history; history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease; high fat/low fiber diet (also a risk factor for developing diverticulosis); obesity; aging; personal history of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer; and physical inactivity.

Mitchell Hecht specializes in internal medicine. Send questions to him at: "Ask Dr. H.," Box 767787, Atlanta, Ga. 30076. Because of the large volume of mail received, personal replies are not possible.

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