It is normal to feel anxious about consuming a Schedule II drug like Adderall on a daily basis, especially if it wasn't a prescription within a treatment program.
For a good reason: The FDA has warned of severe side effects of misusing Adderall; things like extreme cardiovascular events, seizures, hypertension, and sudden death should urge people to find natural alternatives to the drug whenever possible .
We have collected in this post five natural alternatives to Adderall that you can consider to add to an ADHD treatment plan or even replace Adderall for cognitive performance enhancement altogether.
5 Natural Alternatives To Adderall
1. Magnesium And Vitamin B6
Some studies have associated Magnesium deficiency with ADHD symptoms in children . Levels of Magnesium inside the cells of children with ADHD were 26% lower than children with no ADHD symptoms.
After eight weeks of supplementation, the Magnesium level improved by 9% in children with ADHD.
Researchers measured the symptoms of ADHD, such as hyperactivity, aggressiveness, and lack of attention, among children at different times. Within two months of treatment, the symptoms have improved (declined) among children with ADHD after being treated with Vitamin B6 (0.6 mg/kg body weight per day) and Magnesium (6.0 mg/kg body weight per day).
The study concluded that chronic magnesium deficiency was associated with ADHD symptoms and that supplementing Magnesium could improve the condition .
2. Omega-3/6 Fatty Acids (PUFA)
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are the two major classes of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs).
Research suggests that both fatty acids' relative intakes might impact many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer .
Children and teenagers with ADHD have shown 25% improved symptoms after being treated with Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements over three months.
The randomized controlled study included 75 children; 26% of the group responded to treatment after three months, and 47% of those showed reduced ADHD symptoms and a drop in the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale after six months of treatment .
Supplements of Omega-3 and Omega-6 were efficient in controlling and improving ADHD symptoms.
The efficiency of Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements was evaluated among a group of Canadian primary school children. Parents of 26 patients monitored the ADHD symptoms over 16 weeks. The children were divided into two groups: one was receiving Omega-3 supplements, and the other was receiving Omega-6 supplements. The improvements in ADHD symptoms were more significant in the first group .
While the research on the impact of Caffeine on ADHD cases is still not sufficient to propose it as an alternative for Adderall in treating ADHD, Caffeine is a natural, safe alternative for Adderall among healthy individuals seeking improved cognitive performance.
Caffeine has superior qualities to promote it as a replacement for Adderall as a brain stimulant.
The bitter compound is found in Coffee beans, dark chocolate, and dietary supplements. It gains its power through an invoked mechanism that inhibits neuronal receptors responsible for brain relaxation, boosting brain alertness and attention .
Caffeine's regular moderate consumption can enhance mental activities, especially those that involve passive learning and don't intensely require working memory .
4. L-Theanine And Caffeine
L-Theanine and Caffeine work best in combination. When consumed separately, L-Theanine and Caffeine can increase impulsivity and relevant ADHD symptoms in children. On the contrary, combining both substances in supplements is suggested as a viable alternative for Adderall in treating ADHD patients.
L-Theanine can enhance Caffeine's cognitive performance whilst avoiding the negative effect of Caffeine on blood flow to organs and tissues. Research shows that this combination can increase task performance speed, improve semantic (language and logic) memory, increase accuracy, and raise alertness .
The combination of L-Theanine and Caffeine has the potential to be used in ADHD therapy.
Children with ADHD have been using a combination supplement (2.5 mg/kg body weight) L-Theanine and (2.0 mg/kg body weight) Caffeine over four separate days. Researchers evaluated their cognitive performance during supplementation and under placebo. Results showed that L-Theanine and Caffeine increased their cognitive performance and decreased impulsivity when applied together .
5. Meditation, Exercises And Yoga
Not only natural supplements can be applied as alternative interventions to replace pharmacotherapy. Exercises, Yoga, and mediation are also studied as potential interventions with mild ADHD symptoms or in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Practicing mindfulness is considered a type of meditation to help control stress using guided imagery and breathing techniques to relax the body and mind. It is regarded as a rational and effective intervention in ADHD cases. When applied in empirical studies, it has shown improvement in mind-wandering and other ADHD symptoms in patients.
Research suggests that mindfulness could be applied as a standalone treatment or in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for adults with ADHD symptoms .
Evidence from preliminary studies proposes physical training to improve ADHD presentations and enhance cognitive performance in a healthy population and ADHD patients. Studies found consistent positive effects of the long-term intervention of physical activity and acute acrobatic exercises on children and adults with ADHD .
Tai Chi classes teach you a sort of martial art meant not only for defense training but also for health benefits and meditation.
A study included adults diagnosed with ADHD who were evaluated over five weeks against the Conner Scale used to assess their ADHD indicators .
Participation in Tai Chi classes effectively controlled ADHD symptoms such as daydreaming behaviors, hyperactivity, and anxiety among thirteen adult participants.
Yoga is meant to have various health benefits, from improving strength and flexibility to relaxation and stress control. Researchers tried to evaluate the possibility of teaching yoga practices to ADHD patients and observe its effect on their symptoms.
The study included nine children under ADHD medications. They participated in eight yoga training sessions. By the end of the experiment, they successfully learned Yoga practice, and their ADHD scores showed improvement, suggesting Yoga as a beneficiary integration in an ADHD treatment program .
Natural Alternatives To Adderall: Summing Up
Applying pharmacotherapy, including drugs such as Adderall, cannot be avoided entirely. Doctors could still decide to base their treatment programs for ADHD patients on medications like Adderall, especially in acute cases which require rigorous interventions.
Nevertheless, research proposes alternatives to Adderall and pharmacotherapy as potent add-ons to ADHD therapy. They are definitely safe replacements for using Adderall and other “smart drugs” to improve cognitive performance in healthy individuals.
Research suggests a mix of a healthy diet and regular exercise and mediation practices as a sustainable and safe alternative to pharmacotherapy for treating or enhancing cognitive impairments. Including moderate amounts of Caffeine, L-Theanine, Omega-3, and essential minerals and vitamins like Magnesium and Vitamin B6 in your daily diet can be a good start for better mental and physical health in adults and children.