The Risks of D-Ribose?

On December 14th of last year, I wrote about the fabulous benefits of D-ribose, and particularly, how marvelously it can work in some people to improve energy, cardiovascular function and sleep.

Because it is so powerful, and its benefits so amazing, however, it can be easy to overlook the potential risks of D-ribose. I discuss what some of these might be here, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to take this nutrient.

Most research I have found on this nutrient states that it is completely safe; however, a couple of health care practitioners have cautioned me against overuse, with one stating that it can cause candida, and the other leaving me with the impression that it is just too powerful. Kind of like a steroid for the cells.

Meanwhile, a couple of Lyme sufferers have mentioned that it caused blood sugar lows when they didn’t take it with food, and left them with symptoms of hypoglycemia. Indeed, on the label of the product I take, Corvalen, which contains D-ribose, magnesium and malate, it is written that D-ribose should be used with caution in patients who use insulin.

Personally, I also wonder if this super nutrient can mask problems in the body. Its effects upon energy are so powerful, that I have found that fatigue related to sleep deprivation can be adequately masked by sufficiently high doses of D-ribose. Steroid-like? I don’t know. You tell me. I also wonder if it can mask the effects of herxheimer reactions. While that may sound like a blessing in disguise, if you are unaware that your body is filled with toxins, you may not take the steps required to adequately remove them.

That D-ribose causes candida seems to be a point of contention amongst health care professionals. The highly-respected proponent of D-ribose, Dr. J. Titelbaum, writes in the latest version of his book, “From Fatigued To Fantastic”, that D-ribose does not cause candida. One of my Lyme-literate physician friends disagrees.

True, D-ribose is not a sugar like any other. The body uses it specifically and only for cellular energy, and it is thought to not be toxic in excess, like other sugars.

So if you have personal experience with this nutrient and believe that it has caused or exacerbated your candida, I would love to hear from you. Personally, I have not found this to be a problem, but then again, I only take one-eighth of the recommended dose. I don’t need any more than that.

That it causes blood-sugar swings is another matter and I believe that this is true for those who take D-ribose on an empty stomach and are prone to blood-sugar problems. I haven’t researched the nutrient enough to know why, but I have personally experienced an increased craving for carbohydrates since starting D-ribose in December. I believe this may be because it is in fact, creating more energy in the body, hence increasing the body’s caloric requirements. I tend towards symptoms of hypoglycemia but have found that as long as I take D-ribose with my breakfast, I do just fine. But again, I take a low dose of the stuff. Probably if I took the full dose, I would be cramming poppy seed muffins down my throat every hour!

If you find that D-ribose increases your carbohydrate cravings, this might pose another potential problem for you if you believe, as many Lyme-literate physicians, that Lyme sufferers should be on low-carbohydrate diets. So if you don’t eat carbohydrates while taking this stuff, you might need to increase your fats and proteins, which can be hard to do, as you can only eat so many chickens and eggs and nut butters in one day!

For now, I cautiously endorse the use of D-ribose in people with chronic fatigue and Lyme disease, because I believe that the benefits (per my other post) of this marvelous nutrient outweigh its risks. Improved sleep aids the body in healing from Lyme; increased energy improves mood and well-being which in turn strengthens the immune system, and increased cardiovascular function helps the heart and aids in the transport of nutrients and oxygen to the cells. These are just some of its benefits.

But proceed with caution! Start by taking a low dose, with food, and see how you feel. Like all nutrients, it isn’t for everyone. And I’m not a doctor, so please don’t take any of this as medical advice. I’m just a researcher and Lyme sufferer, with insights to offer which may or may not benefit you.