At first glance, Adderall may seem to be a good medication for conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and has been a recommended remedy for it for a while.
In the past, it was thought to be a pediatric condition. However, recent data suggests that 30% to 70% of children with ADHD continue to exhibit the same symptoms in adulthood.
American adults who are prescribed medication to treat the disorder increased by 90% from 2002 to 2005.
Adderall is the most widely-prescribed medicine for people with ADHD, but because of people’s tendency to abuse and psychological and physical dependency, it has been classified as a “Schedule II stimulant” by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
This means they are only legally available through prescription, with a limit of 30 days’ worth of doses.
“ADHD” and Substance Abuse
Unfortunately, despite the restrictions, the illegal use of ADHD stimulants such as Adderall has become popular during the late 90s for American college campuses.
Research found out that some students sample these stimulants recreationally – highest among fraternities, students from the northeastern region of the United States, and students from competitive colleges.
These students were soon found out to be more likely to consume alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and participate in other risky behaviors.
They also discovered that while there are only very few participants who have a prescription for ADHD medication, more than 35% used ADHD medication illegally.
These students eventually frame stimulant use as physically harmless and morally acceptable as it becomes a stigma-free part of the culture.
The same research advocates for increasing knowledge about ADHD stimulants, and enlightening the public that:
- Not because ADHD prescription medications are produced, regulated, and prescribed by medical establishments, they are always safe ADHD stimulants have no harmful physical side effects
- Using or distributing these substances are not dangerous, as distribution of these stimulants may carry legal repercussions in some states
- ADHD is more than a “periodic inability to concentrate”
- ADHD medications are akin to coffee or a can of Diet Coke
Adderall: Is it completely Healthy?
First and foremost, what exactly is Adderall?
Adderall is used primarily to treat ADHD and is a combination of Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine. It is a central nervous system stimulant, meaning it speeds up and heightens certain bodily processes. It also has benefits for people with sleeping disorders, and in some cases treat severe depression.
It increases the availability of certain neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, boosting alertness, attention, and energy levels.
Adderall is taken orally and is prescribed by a physician that normally gives a low dose to avoid unwanted side effects, including:
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach and digestive issues
- Reduced appetite, diarrhea, and constipation
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Excess fatigue and difficulty sleeping
When untreated, these side-effects can become severe and have dangerous effects ranging anywhere from chest pain to aggressive behavior.
Given these risks, a lot of people still ask if there are any effective over-the-counter alternatives to Adderall that are both legal and safe. The good news is that there are –and perhaps the only thing stopping customers like you from getting a good amount of these products are restrictions and prescriptions – but products do exist that are safer and more natural compared to Adderall.
Most of them are stacks or a mixture of ingredients aimed at increasing performance. These “brain foods” boost the effects of external factors such as exercise habits, sun exposure, social group, and genetics on the brain’s chemical behavior.
These “brain foods” are useful especially when a user does not have the time to perform all of the tasks mentioned. These products help address deficiencies and imbalance in the neurological system and increase overall ability to concentrate, energy regulation, and mood balance.
Adderall is a powerful stimulant, but there are more natural, healthier alternatives available in the market.
Are Nootropics the Answer?
These “brain foods” are also commonly called Nootropics. They are a class of cognitive-enhancing supplements that are used to improve concentration and boost memory power – which means they can also be used to increase attention span, focus, and studying power.
Nootropics are also labeled as “smart drugs” as they are associated with activities involving intelligence, motivation and mental energy.
However, unlike smart drugs that have side effects (often negative) with long-term use, Nootropics generally tend to be safe, neuroprotective (meaning they protect the brain) and pose a very low risk of side-effects.
This means nootropics can also directly affect the levels of brain chemicals associated with slowing down the aging process, and can even stimulate the growth of new synapses and vastly improve mental clarity – making it a good tool for students and professionals alike.
Nootropics share a common characteristic with Adderall where they enhance communication between neurons or the message centers of the brain. They balance neurotransmitter levels by promoting brain cell health, as they also improve energy metabolism in neurons, and stimulate their growth.
Most nootropics are synthetic, meaning they come in form of manufactured products such as capsules and tablets – but most (if not all) of them are natural-borne and are made from natural substances found in nature.
For instance, fish oil, grape seed extract, bacopa monnieri, yerba mate and licorice are natural Nootropics. These ingredients are often combined in a stack (as will be explained later) to further enhance their effectiveness.
Continuous usage of nootropics can help improve the health of neurons, which contributes to long-lasting improvement to the health and function of the brain.
Some nootropics increase blood flow or supply it with nutrients, oxygen, and glucose which is the primary energy source of the brain. This is vital to the brain’s function as it requires an immense amount of energy, despite being only 2% of our body mass. It constitutes 20% of our energy expenditure, meaning it requires regular maintenance.
This is generally maintained by mental exercises, learning new things, concentration, and staying alert – so with the help of oxygenation and raising blood flow, the focus can be significantly improved.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at each nootropic.
Modafinil is a prescription wakefulness enhancer that increases productivity and cognitive function, with much more manageable side effects. Though a bit expensive, Modafinil will make users feel more alert, and has been reported to be a good treatment for ADHD.
Modafinil is said to be more gentle to the brain compared to Adderall, and may even be neuroprotective, or can protect the brain from injury. It inhibits dopamine reuptake, increasing dopamine concentrations at synapses, which enhances alertness.
2. Alpha Brain
Alpha Brain is an all-natural substitute for Adderall often promoted by MMA enthusiast and podcaster Joe Rogan. It includes various amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants and lipid compounds. It has been clinically studied to help healthy individuals support memory, focus and process information faster.
Alpha Brain is one the leading nootropic “stack” product on the market. It comes with a great “synergistic harmony” that elevates the effects of all members of the said stack.
One of its most important components, Alpha GPC, boosts acetylcholine in the brain, which is key to faster nerve signaling. It boosts clearer thoughts and helps make neural tissue healthier.
The pairing of Vinpocetine and Huperzine A can restore circulation to neural tissue, while cells can be stronger and can repair damage better with Nerve Growth Factor in the mix.
Other ingredients such as GABA and Vitamin B6 are stress relievers that can help ADHD patients. Alpha Brain is boosted with beneficial herbs and supplements such as AC-11, Bacopa Monnieri, Serrata, Pterostilbene, Mucuna Pruriens, and Oat Straw.
3. Dopamine Brain Food
Natural Stacks’ Dopamine Brain Food is yet another popular iteration of these “stacks,” which makes full advantage of dopamine. It is a neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, memory and creativity, that helps users stay alert and focused, be more athletic, and boosts alertness, assertiveness and confidence.
Primary ingredients for this particular stack are L-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine, which are amino acids that help synthesize dopamine.
Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Selenium are responsible in converting other substances to dopamine, and convert dopamine to norepinephrine that boosts alertness and concentration.
Folate, Vitamin B12 and Trimethylglycine boost the performance of norepinephrine and epinephrine in attention-based activities.
In general, Dopamine Brain Food boosts mental alertness, athletic performance, and provides an increased drive to accomplish tasks.
4. Smart Caffeine
Caffeine is great. Often considered one of the best nootropics on earth, it packs quite the punch.
However, you can’t use caffeine alone for maximum productivity. It may give you a couple extra hours, but for many, being awake isn’t enough to perform at your best. You also need to stay relaxed in order to be focused.
This is where Smart Caffeine comes in.
Smart Caffeine uses L-Theanine, a naturally occurring amino acid from green tea with benefits which include mental relaxation, reduced stress, improved working memory and enhanced learning. This is ideal for creating a relaxed yet alert state that is useful for productive and focused activity. It helps align a user’s energy for consistency, total mental clarity, without jitters, anxiety and nausea.
Ingredients for Smart Caffeine includes natural caffeine, which is the most popular stimulant available in the market. L-Theanine from green tea naturally helps induce mental relaxation, reduced stress, and improved memory.
Smart Caffeine works best to individuals that are used to handling caffeine, which includes students and professionals.
Caffeine on its own cannot become an effective cognitive enhancer, as users often experience an anxious mental state that is followed by a “crash,” or tolerant users may simply not get the “kick” they need at all. Natural caffeine and L-Theanine work synergistically to boost each other’s positive effects.
Qualia stack supports increased memory and cognitive function, by combining a very long list of nootropics and nootropic herbs like Ashwaganda, L-Theanine, Coqsol-10, Pterostilbene and Alpha Lipoic Acid to improve focus in users. This boosts concentration ability and peak brain power, reducing fatigue and improving clarity.
Each capsule is a blend of Caffeine, Choline, Taurine, Caffeine, Vitamin B6 and B12 and much much more, which are known ingredients that effectively combine and boost mental processes. Vitamins B6 and B12, for instance, are known not only to aid cognitive function, but to keep neurons generally healthy as well.
Qualia is hands down my favorite nootropic stack, not only because it works so well, but also because it has overall brain health as a top priority (not just “improvement”). As such, it’s a top contender for the best natural alternative to Adderall on the market today.
SPRINT is a smart drug designed for immediate use and provides clarity, energy and flow effective for a good run of four to six hours. It is ideal to use when finishing big projects, long days at work, or overcoming mentally demanding tasks.
While each bottle contains only ten capsules, SPRINT takes effect immediately right after consumption and is a good substitute to coffee or an energy drink for focus and productivity.
Its components, which are Caffeine, L-Thenaine, Vitamins B6 and B12, Glucuronolactone and Inositol, are specifically chosen for their effects to boost alertness, focus, memory and reaction time. Each complement the other’s effects, which include improved rapid visual information processing, attention and mood improvement.
Glucuronolactone is specifically praised in SPRINT as it converts toxic substances in the bloodstream into water-soluble conjugates that can be excreted in urine. This is important as a lot of toxic substances build up under stress and lack of sleep.
Are they worth it?
But do we really need these products? Absolutely.
Not only are we in an environment where tasks are becoming increasingly demanding, but results are being demanded on a much quicker pace than we could generally handle.
Contrary to popular belief, the usage of supplements the right way not only can boost mental performance, but boost results as well.
The above products not only prove that certain ingredients work by being synergistic with one another, but they also prove that these supplements, coupled with healthy diet and exercise, could put our brains to its maximum potential.
Being more focused on tasks not only produces better results, but they can also help us become the following:
- More in control of our lives as we will become more aware of our plans.
- More positive, as a healthy psychological state can drive determination in achieving goals.
- Being more aware of oneself, which is essential in pursuing any goal and help us become stronger in the long-term.
- Improved decision-making, which boosts our trust in oneself and in others, as having a focused mind helps bolster growth.
- Being more reflective, as clarity and focus helps us become more open to methods to help us achieve our goals.
Despite what our peers might say, constant misuse of drugs and stimulants can let us stray from this path and even damage our brains, moving us further away from our goals to be more productive.
The above products can help mitigate the damages and still provide results.
Adderall Substitute FAQ
Can I take these supplements together for added effect?
You might be thinking, well, many of these products are natural, why would they bring negative effects?
While that might seem like the most logical thought to follow, natural substances, however, can react negatively when taken all at the same time.
Even if all the substances are natural, they still contain chemicals and compounds which in some situations can react unpredictably. It is not recommend that you mix these substances together.
You should receive the benefit you are searching for with just taking one of these supplements.
But, what if one of these substances don’t work? What should I do then?
If for some reason one substance doesn’t work, simply discontinue that substance. Then, wait for about one to two weeks before trying another natural supplement.
What if I have a bad reaction?
As I already mentioned, substances do not have the same effects on everyone.
If you have a bad reaction or experience any side effects, stop the supplement immediately. You may be allergic.
To avoid this problem, visit your doctor to identify your allergy profile so that you will know whether you can take any of these Adderall alternatives or not.
What if I am on medication, can I take these supplements?
If you are on any medication at all, consult your doctor before starting any of these supplements, it is absolutely essential. Even if you are not on any medication you really should not to take any of these without speaking to a doctor. They could lead to severe episodes and suicidal thoughts.
If I think I have ADHD can I just take these natural substitutes for Adderall and treat myself?
No. See a doctor.
These supplements assist in enhancing productivity by helping you focus and process information faster.
They are not meant to treat serious medical conditions.
Ok, I’ve read all this and I understand everything. I’m ready to go ahead and give these natural Adderall alternatives a try. Where do I start?
The respective websites for purchase of the supplements above are linked to Adderall alternatives you can buy online.
The websites also contain more information about each product, specifically the dosage and the ingredients in each supplement.
Update 2020: 5 more suggestions to try
Here are five more Adderall alternatives I was able to get my hands on.
While I found Focusene and a Uridine stack my preferred choice, it might be something else entirely for you. But above all else, always remember to consult your doctor before you get started on a particular regime.
One othe f first alternatives for Adderall to appear, Addtabz was developed to be safer and more accessible for the masses. It was created with the sole aim to positively affect cognitive ability and performance for students and professionals alike.
I read the reviews (many negative) and decided to take the plunge and see for myself.
Since there were no ingredients listed on the website, I was wary about it and took just 1 pill a day. It only touches upon the primary ingredient and nothing else. I would advise you to consult your doctor before you take this.
I’ve used it for a period of over 2 months and I didn’t feel overwhelmingly productive, but still had no hindrances and side effects like jitters and anxiety normally associated with Adderall. I was less likely to be in a foul mood at the end of the day and generally had a good experience even after it had tapered off.
This was one of the newer ones to hit the market. I’ve heard about its benefits from several friends, but since I was involved with testing other nootropics I never had the time to test it out. So after I was done with everything, I wanted to see for myself why everyone was giving out rave reviews about this supplement.
First off, it’s an all-natural supplement which contains Dandelion Extract, Forskolin, L–Theanine, Phenylalanine and vitamins for a solid foundation.
Suggested dosage is 2 capsules in the morning and that’s exactly what I did. I had good results with these as they gave me a heightened feeling of awareness and a general calmness. Would definitely recommend!
This was a completely herbal nootropic supplement which was marketed as a dietary supplement. It contains a mix of natural anti-oxidants, stimulants and nootropics to improve brain function and cognition.
Since it was completely natural, I believed that it would have fewer side effects. Plus, I could buy it a lot easier than most of the other ‘specialized’ nootropics.
It contains the usual suspects: Noopept, Huperzine, Alpha GPC, and DMHA. Also included are Yerba Mate and Caffeine.
The directions were to take 1 capsule a day along with plenty of water.
I had a very quick increase in focus and attention and a good sense of clarity. It took only around 30 minutes to feel AddieUp working. I did have a bit of a ‘crash’ once the results wore off – I assume this is because of my sensitivity to caffeine.
I wouldn’t call it the best or the most ccost-effective but it’s still a viable alternative to Adderall. The company offers “an unconditional 60-day money back guarantee”..
4. The Uridine Stack
Including Uridine in a stack for increased cognitive benefits was relatively new to me. In fact, I only first heard about it on the Longecity forum (from user “Mr. Happy”) before writing about it here on Corpina.
As recommended in that post, your dosage depends upon your source of Uridine. It could either be 250mg (UMP) or 25-50 (TAU). I was able to get myself TAU plus it is also absorbed easier by the body.
The day I took TAU together with DHA,, I could definitely sense a more substantial effect when it came to getting my work done. I could supplement Uridine and choline to get a much better feedback from my current nootropic regime. This was an eye-opener!
Another product whose ads were literally everywhere on the internet when it came to nootropics! The first thing that came to my mind was that something this well-marketed could not be bad. Then I read this review.
Though that review was anything but flattering, I found a few people who had benefitted from it as well. It struck me as a bit expensive considering that it offered comparatively less benefits compared to the rest of the products we have in this round-up.
Natural Alternatives (Safer but Weaker)
Here are a few more suggestions that can help you think clearer, better and focus well. These are all natural and works with your body without prolonged side effects. They don’t have the potency of Adderall but they are very safe.
This is somehow a powerful stimulant that doesn’t have numerous side effects. The main focus with this supplement is that it betters your mood. You will easily deal with lots of stresses and changes of studying without focusing much on your problems or crying.
While it gives you focus and precision, it also regulates your mood. If you suffer absurd thoughts, and mood instability, Aniracetam is the appropriate prescription for you.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
During early brain development and development of fetus, omega-3 fatty acids concentration are required in high amount to form all neuropathways that develops during growth process.
Childrens’ brains double every two months during early years of growth. Once we become adults, our brain will stop growing, but we keep on adding new connections and memories. The omega-3 fatty acids initiate those connection and offers protection to the nerves from harm. As we continue aging, we need to keep our Omega-3 levels high to keep hold of brain health.
Omega fatty acids and Saturated fats from coconut oil are used by Alzheimer’s researchers to reduce brain deterioration. It is easy to get Omega-3 supplements. Ensure you get the appropriate one that will benefit you.
This supplement works well for individuals who are suffering from high stress or trauma. It increases alpha- waves in human brain, recall and memory.
The good thing about Noopept is that it can resist disturbances and excess noise. In some areas, Noopept is used in medicine to help people suffering from trauma.
People can focus well and resolve the nastiest of their conditions without experiencing bad emotions. This is one of the most powerful Nootropics in our list, though it’s one with the most possible side effects. It should be used with care.
4. Transcendental Meditation
This type of meditation inspires nearly all areas of human brain and also promotes brain rectification. There are many institutions and courses teaching transcendental meditation.
Nowadays, some universities have started offering workshop for this kind of meditation. Many articles and online sites also offer help. It’s advisable to learn under a tutor to get the full benefits.
In the medical community, Piracetam regulates the neurotransmitters glutamatergic acid and cholinergic acid, it has anticonvulsant and neuroprotective properties, therefore improving neuroplasticity.
It also helps reduce social anxiety. Piracetam is a Nootropic offered at a moderate cost. Also, this supplement has a low prevalence of side effects.
What is your favorite Adderall alternative?