Bitter melon is a plant that grows in parts of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America. It grows a fruit that looks like a cucumber. People use bitter melon as both a food and a traditional medicine.
Some research suggests that ribose supplements may boost the amount of exercise that heart patients are able to do comfortably. The supplements may do this by helping to bring the heart's ATP levels back to normal after a heart attack or angina episode.
Some studies also show that ribose may improve heart function and quality of life for people with coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.
But these studies are too small to be conclusive. More research needs to be done.
Ribose has also been used to prevent post-workout cramps, pain, and stiffness in patients with a rare condition called AMPD deficiency. While a small amount of research supports such a use, it's too soon to tell whether ribose is truly helpful.
The same can be said for its use in patients with:
Also, ribose should likely be avoided for at least two weeks before surgery.
Before taking ribose -- or any other supplement -- talk to your doctor about potential risks. Even so-called natural supplements should be used with caution. The FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations from foods. Generally, manufacturers do not need to get FDA approval before selling dietary supplements. The FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement after it reaches the market.