What Is A Natural Alternative To Adderall?

by Fernando Martinez

Adderall and Adderall XR are FDA controlled prescription stimulants used to improve focus, attention, and energy. This powerful medication is not available over-the-counter or OTC.

Its cognitive-boosting function makes it a common recommendation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) patients.

Sadly, Adderall is widely abused, a practice that poses an increasing concern to the medical community.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is typically treated with stimulants like Adderall. 

Still, when used as prescribed, Adderall is safe and highly effective for ADHD-related symptoms. 

Those who take this drug report increase level of energy and cognitive performance as well as improved mental acuity and productivity.

While this pill may sound enticing for many seeking an energy or performance boost understand that stimulant medication comes with serious side effects such abuse potential, addiction, headache, and increased blood flow across your body and heart.

Health professionals who specialize in psychiatry or other mental institute doctor may treat adults and children with an ADHD diagnosis with a Schedule II medications like dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, lisdexamfetamine and methylphenidate.

However, there are numerous natural alternatives to the prescription drug that can be used, in many cases, to curb the use of Adderall which we'll discuss here.

Symptoms of ADHD  

The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorized into 2 types of behavioral problems: inattentiveness, and hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Signs for Children with ADHD

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • interrupting conversations
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • excessive physical movement

Signs for Adults with ADHD

  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • poor organizational skills
  • inability to focus or prioritize
  • continually losing or misplacing things
  • forgetfulness
  • restlessness and edginess
  • difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
  • blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
  • inability to deal with stress
  • extreme impatience
  • taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously

How exactly does Adderall work?

As mentioned before ADHD medications are stimulants used to treat children with ADHD or adults with ADHD. 

Adderall influences the release of some brain chemicals –  notably Dopamine and Norepinephrine. These naturally-occurring substances dictate the speed of the brain’s activities. So by increasing the availability of these compounds in the brain, Adderall in turn helps stabilize overall brain function.

Adderall is administered in a range of doses – from between 5mg to 40 mg. It's usually administered orally, twice daily. Besides ADHD, Adderall is a common prescription for attention disorders and sleeping anomalies.

Typically, the drug’s effects last for between four to six hours, after which the functionality gradually lessens.

Chemical structure of the amphetamine, Adderall.

Side effects of Adderall

Adderall, in excess consumption, may cause overstimulation in the brain. Even within recommended doses, Adderall may trigger:

  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Mouth dryness
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Nervousness

Even regardless of dosage, Adderall comes with specific adverse effects. First, its amphetamine content is highly addictive and prolonged usage may cause dependency. Furthermore, such long-term administration can be risky to the nervous system. If you experience severe side effects, visit your nearest medical center or health professional to seek help. 

Thankfully, there is a long list of more natural supplements that may help handle ADHD symptoms. With or without ADHD, these safer alternatives can help manage stimulation and increase focus.

Natural Alternatives to Adderall


Coffee is strongly associated with high energy and wakefulness. Coffee's role in high energy is the naturally occurring caffeine found in coffee beans. 

Caffeine has the ability to bind to adenosine receptors which control sleep.

Research shows that caffeine helps improve concentration and focus. This makes it an excellent natural alternative to Adderall.

As a stimulant, caffeine helps the brain release dopamine. This substance is also considered a vasoconstrictor – that is, as with Adderall, caffeine narrows blood vessels in the brain’s hyperactive areas. This effect promotes the stability of brain functions.

That said, caffeine is not advisable for use within six hours before bedtime, as its stimulant properties may disturb sleep patterns.

Alpha GPC

Here’s one of the best natural Adderall alternatives. Alpha GPC, or alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, is a choline supplement that interacts with the brain and boosts acetylcholine levels (a neurotransmitter that promotes learning and focus). A 2011 research shows that kids with ADHD had acetylcholine deficiencies of up to 50%.

Therefore, for improved concentration and focus, Alpha GPC has been widely recommended as a healthier alternative to Adderall.

Ginkgo Biloba

Talking brain health, Ginkgo biloba is a prominent name. The herb has been widely used for kids with ADHD. Ginkgo helps sustain a balanced production of the brain’s neurotransmitters including Dopamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. This increase helps boost focus and reduce impulsiveness.

One study links the use of Ginkgo supplement to a dramatic reduction of ADHD symptoms. The research reports that the herb can be a more natural and effective alternative to Adderall.


This non-essential amino acid comes with a wide range of health benefits. This natural alternative helps relieve anxiety and stress by increasing glycine and GABA levels. Glycine and GABA are both neurotransmitters that helps calm hyperactivity in the brain. This effect induces calm and relaxation in users, thereby diminishing ADHD symptoms. 

In fact, studies rate L-Theanine as one of the most effective OTC replacements for the addictive Adderall. Authors of the study report L-Theanine as dramatically improving symptoms of those with mild cognitive impairments.

L-Theanine can be found in many dietary supplements that aid in energy levels. Typically, energy supplements are made with various amino acids and vitamins like L-theanine and Vitamin B6 since research shows a positive synergistic effect when combined.

Those looking for an Adderall alternative, the amino acid L-Theanine may help symptoms of ADHD in combination with other supplements. 

various natural alternatives to adderall to aid in the treatment of ADHD and other cognitive functions


This is a naturally occurring chemical that produces serotonin, a "feel-good" neurotransmitter. As with other over-the-counter ADHD options, 5-HTP contributes positively to the brain’s serotonin. This effect, in turn, helps relieve depression and improve mood. An increase in serotonin levels may usher in happiness and a general sense of wellness.

Thus, an increase in 5-HTP helps promote concentration, focus, and creativity.

Some literature recommends L-Tryptophan (a chemical that helps the body produce 5-HTP) over 5-HTP for ADHD symptoms.

However, since L-Tryptophan promotes protein development or may be converted to niacin, 5-HTP remains a better option for the management of ADHD-related symptoms.


Phosphatidylserine supports cell membranes and to aid in brain health and brain performance. This vital supplement also aids memory function.

Abundant evidence shows the effectiveness of Phosphatidylserine on thinking and learning processes. Phosphatidylserine has been shown to help control mood disorders, reducing depression and anxiety.

Research shows that Phosphatidylserine supplementation results in significant enhancement of auditory memory and impulsivity. Other studies linked the supplement to mental acuity and cognitive processing.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a common herbal supplement in the Chinese medical community, particularly for the improvement of cognitive functions. The herb works well for adults and children alike. Huperzine works like Alpha GPC as an indirect acetylcholine booster.

This herb comes with a synergistic effect on cognitive functions when administered with Alpha GPC.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogen compound and nootropics known to promote healthy mental and physical energy levels while providing calming effects. 

A systematic review of this plant shows Rhodiola used as remedies for reduce fatigue, lack of focus and decrease memory. 

Actually, The Journal of the American Botanical Council reported on 180 studies and articles done on Rhodiola Rosea since 1960. The bulk of the research results shows how this botanical works in treating physical endurance, fatigue, depression, impotence, infections, fertility, cold and flu, tuberculosis, cancer, and anxiety.

Rhodiola Rosea is consumed orally where it is further broken down in the stomach acid. Once it passes the stomach it is absorbed into the blood where it goes all over your body. 

Rhodiola is easily available in many vitamin shops and usually comes in a pill form or tea. 

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri has been researched as an effective and more natural alternative to Adderall. The herb has been used over time across many communities active in traditional medicine.

Like other over-the-counter drugs, bacopa binds with the body’s Dopamine and serotonin receptors. This interaction improves energy levels and alertness.

Bacopa helps boost neuron interaction through the brain’s nerve endings. As such, the natural herb can boost cognition and memory formation. Studies say the herb can modify mood and increase attention span.

Other Supplements for concentration and focus

With or without ADHD, people may have issues with concentration and focus. If that sounds like you, the following supplements may come handy:

  • Vitamin B12 shields and protects the functions of brain nerves
  • Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, a substance which provides brain protection
  • Mint is widely used for memory improvement
  • Rosemary helps boost alertness and memory
  • Cocoa seeds are high in antioxidants which help improve brain health
  • Flax seeds and related vegetarian sources offer beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids
  • Sesame seeds contain high tyrosine levels; besides this, they are also a rich source of zinc, vitamin B-6, and magnesium-- key contributors to brain health.
  • MOXĒ Happy Diffuser. This organic essential oil diffuser is another natural alternative to Adderall. The product contains natural ingredients, including thyme, cinnamon, fennel, and sage, all of which offer aromatic, mood-lifting, and energizing properties. The rich blend of these natural essentials leaves you feeling happy and more focused.

traditional medicines and natural herbs used to aid in the treatment of ADHD and as an alternative to adderall

Wrap Up

Adderall arguably ranks top among prescription therapies for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD – both in adults and children alike.

However, the drug has been overly prescribed and abused, which has left many users with severe consequences such as drug addiction and eventual dependency. Adderall is not widely tolerated and may pose some adverse reactions.

Thankfully, these options above can be effective and more natural alternatives to Adderall.

Remember that these natural supplements may cause some minor side effects and, perhaps, adverse drug interactions. However, Adderall alternatives may be worth trying.

Discuss with your physician before you proceed with any new prescription or supplement.

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