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.
5 Natural Adderall Alternatives
While natural alternatives may not be as potent as a lab-manufactured drug, that doesn’t mean that they are harmless. Even natural supplements can cause side effects or carry the risk of causing a toxic chemical buildup in the body. It is important to always follow dosage requirements and to consult a medical professional first.
It should come as no surprise that caffeine is at the top of our list as a natural alternative to Adderall. Caffeine, one of the most widely consumed drugs in the world, is a central nervous system stimulant that, like Adderall, can help its users stay awake for longer and feel more mentally alert.
How does it work? Caffeine consumption blocks adenosine receptors (the parts of the brain that can make you feel sleepy) which temporarily increases alertness and lessens feelings of fatigue. It also triggers the release of dopamine, which can contribute to improved cognitive ability.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance is most commonly associated with coffee, but can also be found in tea, cocoa, and kola nuts.
Panax ginseng is a versatile plant and powerful antioxidant whose use can be traced back to ancient Asian medicine. It has a number of beneficial effects on the body aside from its cognitive benefits. Not only has ginseng been shown to improve memory, but it can actually protect against degenerative brain diseases as well.
While it’s unclear how exactly ginseng boosts brain function, numerous studies have shown that it reduces brain fatigue and improves cognitive performance, particularly in the area of memory. One study found that participants had significant improvements in visual memory compared to their placebo non-ginseng-taking counterparts, but few changes in their verbal performance.
The only way to take advantage of the many benefits of this holistic super-herb, however, is to make sure you get the good stuff. Ginseng takes more than half a decade to become adaptogenic (the qualities that give it all those health benefits in the first place) which results in this being an expensive herb. Most of the ginseng sold is low-quality and too low an amount to make any sort of health difference.
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.
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 appears in bursts as a response to stressful situations. More commonly known as adrenaline, this chemical is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter and is largely responsible for the fight-or-flight response.
This chemical works in close conjunction with norepinephrine to rev up blood flow and increase blood pressure in preparation for optimized physical and mental performance. It also triggers other reactions in the body including:
- Temporary increases of glucose levels in the blood for cells to use as energy for increased speed and strength
- Dilated pupils for improved vision
- Higher alertness and focus
- Higher pain tolerance
All of these actions put the body under a considerable amount of stress. While a burst of adrenaline can be beneficial in the long run, sustained levels of epinephrine can result in debilitating long-term cardiovascular health risks.
This chemical messenger plays an important role in everyday bodily functions. The ‘yin’ to epinephrine’s ‘yang’ norepinephrine is also sometimes referred to as noradrenaline and is also both a neurotransmitter and hormone.
Norepinephrine acts as a messenger for the nervous system, regulating important functions related to attentiveness, wakefulness, attention, and memory. It plays a significant role in the wake-sleep cycle and signals the body when it’s time to get active. Low levels of norepinephrine have been associated with lethargy, difficulty concentrating, and depression.
In terms of its role in the body’s stress response, norepinephrine works in conjunction with epinephrine (adrenaline) to ensure the body has enough energy to sustain its heightened state by helping to increase blood pressure and heart rate, breaking down fat, and increasing blood sugar levels.
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. In the short term, increased levels of dopamine can lead to better focus. However, if dopamine levels are raised artificially and sustained for an excessive period of time, it can result in aggressive, and competitive behavior and is linked to poor impulse control. Having too much dopamine can also result in conditions such as addiction, schizophrenia, or, ironically, ADHD.
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.