Adderall. It’s a word that will either make you cringe or make you smile, depending on who you ask. The drug’s intended to be used as a prescription medication to treat ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and narcolepsy. Now, it’s become increasingly popular for its off-label use as a study aid and a quick fix for motivation problems.
Students and Wall Street executives in search of a real-world limitless pill frequently turn to Adderall as a possible solution. The drug’s widespread misuse brought about a slew of media coverage and college campus horror stories. Adderall-induced addiction, depression, and derailed lives are just the beginning. With a prescription “smart drug” epidemic looming, renewed awareness, and a healthy fear of Adderall have come to light.
Natural Substitutes for Adderall
ADHD can be challenging to manage. You may experience impulsivity issues, inattentiveness, difficulty learning and socializing, and a general sense of inefficiency. These complications can lead to productivity problems that are extremely difficult to overcome. Fortunately, there are several natural over the counter (OTC) Adderall alternatives to control your symptoms. Herbal Adderall substitutes for treating ADHD are healthy and effective for long-term use. They are entirely legal and will safely reduce your symptoms.
Natural remedies for ADHD are especially significant for parents. Nobody wants to expose their children to the harsh side effects of amphetamine-based stimulants. With that said, non-prescription alternatives are also highly recommended for adults looking to boost focus and concentration. Before we dive into our list of natural supplements for ADHD, let’s take a closer look at the truth behind Adderall.
What Is Adderall and Why Is It Dangerous?
Adderall is the brand name for a potent Schedule II controlled substance that shares a remarkable amount of similarities with methamphetamine. Unfortunately, most Adderall users are unaware of this frightening fact and never associate the two. A common and dangerous misconception is that Adderall is safe since it’s an FDA approved medication, legally prescribed to children by licensed physicians. Just like candy, right? Hardly.
When taken as suggested by a doctor, Adderall, and similar drugs like Vyvanse and Ritalin can help reduce ADHD symptoms. But these drugs still have substantial health risks. Adderall itself contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. This attribute makes it chemically addictive and potentially detrimental to your CNS (Central Nervous System) with long-term use.
Adderall works by stimulating several neurotransmitters in your brain to unnaturally high levels. The neurotransmitters in question include dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), serotonin, and norepinephrine. The sudden rush of “feel good” chemicals can provide alertness and enhanced energy and motivation for an entire day. Sounds good on paper, but the constant flood of “reward” signals can leave you wanting more. Tolerance development ensues. The need to take more of the drug to feel the same effects can quickly lead to addiction and dependency. Excessive Adderall consumption can deteriorate your central nervous system causing permanent and irreversible damage.
Using natural alternatives to Adderall can help you avoid these adverse side effects. When it comes to your health or that of your children, long-term safety should be your priority. Treating ADHD with legal over the counter substitutes is the best decision you can make for yourself and your children.
The natural brain supplements listed below help to improve focus, concentration, mental energy levels, and overall cognitive function. Our list of the 12 best natural Adderall alternatives for adults and children will cover the following supplements: Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa Monnieri, Caffeine, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, Phosphatidylserine, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Alpha GPC, Huperzine A, L-Tyrosine, 5-HTP, and GABA.
Best Natural Over the Counter Adderall Alternatives
1. Ginkgo Biloba
Perhaps the most commonly supplemented herb for brain health, Ginkgo Biloba has shown promise as a natural treatment of ADHD in children. Ginkgo works by preserving the balance of vital neurotransmitters in the brain. Most notably, this nootropic will maintain acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. This benefit improves attention span and helps reduce impulsivity. A double-blind, randomized controlled six-week trial successfully linked Ginkgo supplementation to a significant reduction in ADHD related symptoms. The results of the study indicate that Ginkgo Biloba is a suitable natural alternative for Adderall.
Both legal and easily obtainable over the counter, this herbal supplement has a host of other mental health benefits as well. Ginkgo boosts memory retention, slows age-related cognitive decline, and enhances cerebral blood flow. This natural ADHD treatment can also improve sleep quality and overall mental cognition. These features make Ginkgo a safe and effective substitute to traditionally prescribed ADHD stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse, or Ritalin.
2. Bacopa Monnieri
Those looking for increased lifespan and enhanced cognitive function often turn to Bacopa Monnieri (water hyssop) for help. As a traditionally used medicinal herb for centuries, Bacopa has proven itself as an excellent natural substitute for Adderall. Like its prescription counterparts, Bacopa Monnieri interacts with serotonergic and dopaminergic systems in the body. The positive interaction on essential neurotransmitters enhances alertness and energy levels in the individual.
Bacopa primarily works by enhancing neuron communication through the growth and maintenance of nerve endings in the brain. For this reason, Bacopa supplements reliably improve memory formation and mental cognition. Studies have demonstrated Bacopa’s ability to boost and stabilize mood and improve attention span in its users. This nootropic is available as a non-prescription homeopathic treatment for ADHD for over the counter purchase.
Most of us are no strangers to caffeine, but few would link a cup of coffee to a reduction in ADHD symptoms. Studies have shown that caffeine can safely improve focus and concentration for its users, making it a reliable natural Adderall alternative. Caffeine is considered a Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant which can boost the production of dopamine in the brain. This legal OTC supplement is also a vasoconstrictor. Therefore, caffeine reduces blood flow to overactive regions of the brain by shrinking blood vessels (like Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin). This effect allows for more predictable and stable communication throughout the brain.
Not only will caffeine enhance energy and reduce fatigue, but its stimulatory effect makes it an excellent supplement for curing brain fog. Adults and children with ADHD should consume caffeine during the morning hours, only. An early dosing schedule will help to eliminate sleeplessness or insomnia at night. Excessive caffeine consumption can be harmful to children and teens. Do not go overboard with this Adderall substitute.
Found primarily in green tea leaves from Camellia sinensis plants, L-Theanine is a non-essential amino acid with a variety of health benefits. This safe and natural Adderall alternative can reduce stress and anxiety by boosting levels of GABA and glycine in the brain. GABA and glycine are inhibitory neurotransmitters that work to offset overactive excitatory neurotransmitters. This effect creates a state of relaxation and calmness within the user. By helping the brain achieve equilibrium, L-Theanine effectively reduces ADHD related symptoms.
Studies have supported the use of L-Theanine as one of the best over the counter replacements for Adderall. In users diagnosed with ADHD, there was a notable reduction in mild cognitive impairment while supplementing L-Theanine. Selective attention span also improved in another 16-week study. This natural amino acid is also an excellent nootropic to stack with caffeine. It works by offsetting the crash and jitters associated with caffeine, while still providing mental and physical stimulation.
5. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is a well-known Scandinavian herb with stimulatory properties like Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin. Fortunately, this herbal nootropic comes without the adverse side effects of amphetamine-based ADHD stimulants. Rhodiola Rosea has been utilized for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a natural remedy for a variety of issues related to fatigue and cognitive impairment.
Several studies have demonstrated a link between Rhodiola Rosea and enhancements in memory and mood stabilization through serotonin and dopamine regulation. Improved energy levels, sharper mental processing, and enhanced cognitive function are also among the many health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea. While this brain supplement is safe, and legal for OTC purchase, there are currently few studies that use it for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. However, its effects on cognition suggest that it is an excellent natural substitute for Adderall.
Phosphatidylserine benefits the brain by providing structural support to cell membranes. This natural supplement is known as an essential phospholipid in the human body, aiding in the formation and recollection of memories. There is substantial convincing documentation demonstrating the effects of Phosphatidylserine (PS) on cognitive function. PS combats mood disorders, reduces perceived feelings of anxiety and depression, and even offers neuroprotection.
Not only is this natural remedy excellent for overall brain health, but it’s also a safe and effective over the counter Adderall alternative. A double-blind 2-month study in children with ADHD supplementing Phosphatidylserine showed significant improvements in impulsivity control and auditory memory. Additional research linked PS supplementation to enhancements in processing speed and accuracy in healthy adults. These findings suggest that Phosphatidylserine is an excellent non-prescription alternative for ADHD medications Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin.
7. Omega-3 Fish Oil
Arguably the most popular health supplement on the planet, Omega-3 fish oil is surprisingly effective in treating ADHD naturally. Fish oil contains two primary fatty acids that benefit the mind and body. These fatty acids are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). EPA is excellent for reducing bodily inflammation, improving heart health, and reducing anxiety and depression. DHA is more beneficial as a cognitive enhancer, used as a natural OTC substitute for Adderall.
While both types of fish oil provide numerous health benefits in adults and children, DHA-heavy supplements are more effective for treating ADHD. Several studies have found that fish oil containing more DHA led to improvements in working memory, attention span, and a reduction in behavioral problems related to ADHD (impulse control, hyperactivity, etc.). Another study suggested the effects of Omega-3 fatty acids were even more pronounced when stacked with Phosphatidylserine (PS). If you’re looking for safe, legal, and healthy natural remedies for ADHD, give fish oil a try.
8. Alpha GPC
One of the best Adderall alternatives for over the counter purchase is the highly bioavailable choline supplement, Alpha GPC (Choline Alfoscerate). Recent research suggests that children with ADHD have dramatically reduced acetylcholine receptors in the brain. Alpha GPC works by crossing the blood-brain barrier and promptly increasing levels of usable acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the most prominent learning and memory neurotransmitter in the human body. For this reason, Alpha GPC would be a safe and effective natural Adderall substitute for improving focus and concentration in the user.
The benefits of Alpha GPC go well beyond the treatment of ADHD and cognitive enhancement. This nootropic is arguably just as prevalent in the bodybuilding and fitness world. Alpha GPC can enhance growth hormone production and fat oxidation in healthy young adults. Additionally, choline supplements assist in neuroprotection and serve as excellent natural medications for treating neurodegenerative diseases.
9. Huperzine A
Huperzine A is an herbal nootropic supplement renowned in Chinese medicine for improving cognitive function in children and adults. In a similar fashion to Alpha GPC, Huperzine A benefits the brain by enhancing levels of acetylcholine. While Alpha GPC does so directly, Huperzine A increases acetylcholine levels in the brain, indirectly.
Huperzine A works like this: Acetylcholinesterase is the chemical responsible for breaking down acetylcholine in the brain. Huperzine A is classified as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This classification means that Huperzine A inhibits acetylcholinesterase from performing its duty of breaking down acetylcholine. Huperzine’s inhibitory properties allow more acetylcholine to build up in the brain, subsequently enhancing learning, focus, and attention in the user.
This herbal Adderall alternative is legal, and safe to use for the treatment of ADHD. Additionally, Huperzine A has a synergistic effect and is even more potent for boosting cognitive function when stacked with Alpha GPC. Look for both ingredients together when purchasing natural remedies for ADHD.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid used to produce neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline and is one of the best OTC Adderall substitutes. This natural nootropic supplement is known for its ability to enhance mental cognition during acute and uncontrollable stress. Studies have shown that Tyrosine may also improve memory and reduce feelings of anxiety. This mood-stabilizing benefit makes L-Tyrosine a potentially effective homeopathic remedy for ADHD.
The effects of this Adderall alternative on alertness and wakefulness are particularly noteworthy in regular bouts of sleep deprivation. Tyrosine can improve cognitive function without interrupting regular sleeping patterns. Another study successfully linked the supplementation of L-Tyrosine and 5-HTP to prominent reductions in ADHD related symptoms in children. However, L-Tyrosine is less effective for ADHD and cognitive function in non-stressful situations. In other words, it may be a good natural treatment for ADHD if you are frequently stressed or experience irregularities in sleep quality.
5-HTP is the precursor to “feel good” neurotransmitter, serotonin, and is a safe and effective natural substitute for Adderall. Much like prescription ADHD medications Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin, 5-HTP positively influences serotonin in the brain which has an anti-depressant effect. When levels of serotonin increase in the user, happiness and an improved sense of well-being occur. Thus, supplementing 5-HTP rejuvenates focus and concentration, improves creativity, and boosts mental energy.
Some users suggest taking L-Tryptophan as a natural remedy for ADHD instead of 5-HTP. L-Tryptophan is the precursor to 5-HTP. Since L-Tryptophan can also divert into protein construction or niacin, 5-HTP is the better choice for treating ADHD symptoms. This is because 5-HTP serves the singular purpose of being converted into serotonin. As a legal over the counter alternative to Adderall, 5-HTP easily permeates the blood-brain barrier. 5-HTP’s high bioavailability allows it to go to work on serotonin production quickly and efficiently.
GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is a self-regulating inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system often used as a sleeping aid. Its primary purpose is to help the brain maintain equilibrium. It achieves this goal by reducing the excitability and erratic over-firing of neurons, specifically by countering Glutamate receptors.
Studies have shown that GABA levels are much lower in those suffering from ADHD and insomnia. Unfortunately, GABA deficiencies can have an adverse compounding effect since sleeplessness can worsen symptoms of ADHD. This discovery has opened the door for using GABA supplements as a safe, natural alternative for Adderall in adults and children.
When taking GABA as a non-prescription remedy for ADHD, it can help moderate neural activity and increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Heightened levels of serotonin can control mood swings and reduce stress and anxiety. Supplementing GABA can also diminish irritability, aggression and other behavioral problems associated with ADHD like hyperactivity and impulse control. Although the research is not definitive on the effectiveness of GABA as an Adderall substitute, studies suggest that it’s at least worth a try.
Final Thoughts on Natural Adderall Alternatives for ADHD
Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin are powerful CNS stimulants for treating ADHD. These are not genius pills or smart drugs. These prescription medications can be dangerous if abused. Therefore, they are not the best options for long-term use, especially given the new knowledge we have on safe and legal over the counter replacements.
With a whole slew of natural Adderall alternatives and substitutes to choose from, it’s worth kicking the amphetamines to the curb in favor of a new ADHD remedy. What do you think is the best Adderall alternative? Let us know about your experience with these natural ADHD supplements in the comments below.
The effect of phosphatidylserine containing Omega3 fatty-acids on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, followed by an open-label extension.
CongiTune originally created and published this article (12 Best Adderall Alternatives: Natural Over the Counter ADHD Substitutes). It is published here with permission.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.