What is D-Ribose and why is it important?

Every cell in your body requires energy to survive, maintain its integrity and perform its function. The mitochondria within each cell are the “powerhouse” that produces energy (ATP) through chemical reactions.  Stressful conditions such as disease, high-intensity activities, mitochondrial dysfunction (consequence of aging), decreased blood flow and lower levels of oxygen can all significantly play a role in decreasing the concentration of these key “energy-making” compounds, which can result in fatigue and decrease cellular function.

D-Ribose is a 5-carbon monosaccharide (sugar) made by every cell in the body.  It is not like normal “sugar”, like fructose or glucose, as it does not raise blood sugar levels, but rather is recognized by the body for its importance in many functions that are required every day, such as providing power to our hearts, muscles, brain and every other tissue in the body.  It is absolutely required for the formation of ATP (cellular energy) and also is important in our genetic information (DNA and RNA). 

D-Ribose is absolutely crucial to maintain optimal health.  Without enough energy production, we can suffer fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness and eventually loss of cellular function which can play a role in diseases.  When our cells demand more “fuel”, or energy, and the tank is on empty, these cells try and meet these energy demands. However, these alternate energy sources are not only far less efficient but they can produce damaging molecules, such as free radicals, which can cause further damage to the cell, jeopardizing its function.

Therapeutic Benefits of D-Ribose Powder

Although the athletic community was the first to capitalize on the benefits of D-Ribose, extensive research over decades has uncovered additional beneficial applications of D-ribose.  Since all cells require energy to perform their “job”, it seems obvious that we should pursue compounds that can aid in maintaining adequate energy levels, thereby providing the fuel for our cells during times of stress.  Obviously, cellular energy deficiency can lead to an alteration in function, which can present itself in the form of a disease, and if severe enough can lead to cellular death.  Preventing this energy deficiency is crucial.

The Power of D-Ribose in Heart Disease

As one can imagine, our hearts require a constant supply of energy to perform its vital functions, such as relaxation and contraction of the heart muscle in order to provide adequate circulation of blood and oxygen to all our tissues.  When the heart’s energy level decreases, the heart is unable to perform these functions adequately.  When the heart muscle is under constant energy deprivation, clinical symptoms can develop along with an impairment in function.

When the heart experiences stress (ie: heart attack), blood flow to the heart muscle is decreased which results in lower ATP levels.  It is this period of time when the heart’s muscular function is compromised and, if left untreated, can result in long-term damage.  D-ribose is able to help those heart muscle cells recover from this deficiency in energy more quickly and thus, benefit function. 

For example, studies have shown that D-ribose supplementation in congestive heart failure patients has improved the relaxation functional phase, improve quality of life, and increase exercise endurance in these patients.  Hopefully, long term use of D-ribose may provide an additional benefit in decreasing the reliance on pharmaceutical interventions, which are known to cause a host of detrimental side effects. 

D-Ribose: The “muscle” behind exercise endurance

Regular exercise by healthy adults as well as high-intensity exercise by athletes requires adequate supplies of ATP, as well as the capacity to regenerate these energy molecules following exercise.  When cells are unable to generate enough ATP to support cellular processes in the muscle, the individual may experience fatigue, muscular pain, and soreness following exercise, which can last for days compromising an individual’s exercise regimen. By providing D-ribose, exercising muscles are able to maintain energy compounds, experience less discomfort post-exercise, enhance recovery of utilized ATP levels and maintain their exercise schedule.


  • Fatigue and exhaustion often occur as a result of depletion of the vital energy molecule called ATP.
  • Stressed muscles are vulnerable to low ATP levels.
  • D-ribose supplementation has been shown to boost heart muscle function following ischemia and to aid in function in congestive heart failure patients by providing the energy required for increased activity.
  • Increased ATP levels in skeletal muscle following D-ribose supplementation can help to reduce the post- exercise muscle pain and fatigue, allowing the maintenance of a more rigorous exercise regimen.


The role of ribose in human skeletal muscle metabolism

Dodd SL, Johnson CA, Fernholz K, St Cyr JA

Med Hypotheses 2004; 62(5):819-24

Ribose in the Heart

2008, Vol. 5, No. 2, Pages 213-217

James Herrick and John St. Cyr

Myocardial Ischemia: Alterations in Myocardial Cellular Energy and Diastolic Function, a Potential Role for D-Ribose

Novel Strategies in Ischemic Heart Disease, Dr. Umashankar Lakshmanadoss (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0184-0

Linda M. Shecterle and J. A. St. Cyr (2012)

The benefits of ribose in cardiovascular disease

Pauly DF, Johnson C, St Cyr JA

Med Hypotheses 2003 Feb; 60(2):149-51

The use of D-ribose in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia: a pilot study

Teitelbaum JE, Johnson C, St Cyr J.

J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Nov; 12(9):857-62

Dermal benefits of topical D-ribose

Shecterle LM, St Cyr JA.

Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol 2009 Sep 9; 2:151-2

Ribose : A Key to Heart Health and Energy: An interview with John St. Cyr, M.D., Ph.D.

By Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.

Whole Foods Magazine; January 2005

**Adapted from:

For more information and research, please follow the hyperlinks below, accessible at

Befera 2007 Ribose treatment helps preserve function myocardium AB.pdf

Gonzales 2006 Ribose treatment imporived heart function AB.pdf
Gradus-Pizlo Effect d-ribose detection hibernating myocardium.pdf

Ingwall 2004 Is the Fail Hrt Ergy Strvd.pdf
Ingwall 2006 Hypothesis failing heart energy starved.pdf

Johnson 2005 Ribose preserves ventricular function Internel J of Thoracic Cardio.pdf
Li 1997 Metabolism and actions of ADP ribose.pdfMacCarter 2007 Ribose Benefits COPD AB.pdf
MacCarter 2008 D ribose Aids Advanced Ischemic Heart Failure Patients to be published Int J Cardiology Summer 2008.pdf
MacCarter St. Cyr 2007 D-Ribose Benefits COPD – Internet Journal of Pulmonary Medicine.pdf
Neubauer 2007 NEJM The Failing Heart An Engine Out of Fuel.pdf
Omran 2003 Rib Imp diast func.pdf
Parang 2005 Metabolic modulators chronic cardiac ischemia.pdf
Pauly 2000 D-Ribose as a supplement for cardiac energy metabolism.pdf
Pauly 2003 Benefits of ribose in cardiovascular disease Full paper.pdf
Pauly 2004 Ischemic heart disease metabolic approaches to management Full paper.pdf

Perkowski 2005 (FASEB) pre surg load of oral d off pump revasc.pdf
Perkowski 2006 D Ribose Improves (PATS).pdf

Vance 2000 D Ribose Maintains Ejection FASEB.pdf

Vijay 2008 St. Cyr D-ribose benefits heart failure patients March 2008.pdf