The demands of work, parenthood, and school have never been higher. And with social media constantly showing what we could be doing, it’s no wonder that people are having a hard time feeling like they’re keeping up. As such, it’s understandable how prescription medications like Adderall have exploded in popularity. These performance-enhancing “smart drugs” can help enhance focus and memory, improve attention spans, and ward off sleep. Less well-known, however, are the slew of harmful side effects they can cause, including addiction. For this reason, more and more people have been searching for natural Adderall alternatives to provide a mental boost without the risk.
How Adderall Works
To find Adderall alternatives that actually work, let’s take a closer look at what this medication is and how it affects the body. Adderall is a stimulant, a drug that enhances activity in the brain and central nervous system. It can further be classified as a nootropic, a very specific drug classification that refers to drugs with cognitive-boosting capabilities.
Adderall is comprised of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, both are central nervous system stimulants. These substances increase the levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine, creating a cocktail of neurotransmitters perfectly primed to boost brainpower.
Epinephrine – More commonly known as adrenaline, this chemical is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. It is largely responsible for the fight-or-flight response and appears in bursts in response to stressful situations. It works in close conjunction with norepinephrine to rev up blood flow and increase blood pressure in preparation, optimizing both physical and mental performance. Other changes caused in the body are temporary increases of glucose levels in the blood (for cells to use for energy); dilated pupils for improved vision; higher alertness and focus; and higher pain tolerance. Doing so puts the body under a considerable amount of stress, and high levels of epinephrine in the body can result in long term cardiovascular health risks.
Norepinephrine – This chemical messenger plays an important role in everyday bodily functions. It serves primarily as a neurotransmitter for the nervous system (it can also function as a hormone during fight-or-flight responses) that regulates attentiveness, wakefulness, attention, and memory. Norepinephrine plays a significant role in the wake-sleep cycle and signals the body when it’s time to get active. One of its most notable functions is its ability to increase blood pressure and heart rate. Low levels of norepinephrine have been associated with lethargy, difficulty concentrating, and depression.
Dopamine – Best known for producing feelings of pleasure and happiness, this neurotransmitter also plays an important role in mood regulation, cognitive ability, attention span, and even motor function. Increased levels can lead to better focus.
Natural Adderall Alternatives
While natural alternatives may not be as potent, they are by no means harmless. Even natural supplements can cause side effects so it is important to always follow dosage requirements.
It should come as no surprise that caffeine is at the top of our list as a natural alternative to Adderall. Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed drugs in the world and is integrated into the fabric of daily life. This naturally occurring substance is most commonly associated with coffee, but can also be found in tea, cocoa, and kola nuts. Caffeine consumption blocks adenosine receptors to increase alertness and lessen feelings of fatigue.
Panax ginseng is a versatile plant whose use can be traced back to ancient Asian medicine. While it’s unclear how exactly ginseng boosts brain function, studies have shown that it reduces brain fatigue and improves cognitive performance. This may only be a short-lived alternative, however, as the body can adapt to this herb and lessen its efficacy after a few months of use.
3. Ginkgo Biloba Extract (GBE)
This herbal supplement is derived from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree. It is known for improving memory, particularly in instances of age-related cognitive decline. Several studies have shown that these extracts improve working memory, the temporary information used for basic tasks and problem-solving. Scientists haven’t yet identified the exact mechanism that makes Ginkgo biloba extract so effective, but believe that GBE affects key neurotransmitters involved with cognition.
This protein powder does more than just promote strong muscles. Creatine provides a quick boost of energy to brain cells as well, temporarily increasing cognitive function, boosting memory and reasoning skills. Amongst the studies conducted, creatine was shown to have minimal side effects and pose no real health risk.
The name of this compound might sound intimidating, but it comes from a simple source: green tea. L-Theanine is a unique amino acid that closely resembles the chemical structure of glutamate, a compound that’s naturally produced in the body that deals with nerve impulses to the brain. Evidence has shown that it has a direct effect on the brain if increasing activity and resulting in better attention spans at high dosages (at least 200mg). L-Theanine also relaxes the mind without sacrificing alertness, thereby increasing the brain’s ability to multitask while minimizing stress and anxiety. Green teas naturally have the greatest L-theanine content following by white, oolong, and black teas. Studies have also shown that the effects of L-theanine are amplified when taken with caffeine.
Overcoming Your Adderall Addiction
It’s not hard to see how the pressures of our increasingly competitive society could drive someone to turn to cognition-boosting smart drugs like Adderall. The occasional override of your bodies’ natural cues may seem harmless – after all, it’s perfectly acceptable to drink coffee all the time, right? But even a natural stimulant like caffeine poses some type of health risk.
Adderall is a potent drug that can be dangerous and habit-forming. The long-term effects of Adderall misuse are far more serious than most realize. They can result in cardiovascular stress and causes a number of psychiatric issues including psychosis or depression. Contact us today if you or a loved one are concerned about Adderall misuse. Simply switching to a natural Adderall alternative may not prevent dangerous side effects from occurring. Our experts can explain all about the dangers of Adderall including the signs of Adderall abuse, side effects, withdrawal symptoms.