NALT could act as an adjunct or replacement for traditional ADHD medications

Best OTC Adderall Alternatives: Nootropics, Supplements and More!

  • Adderall, while useful, often causes more problems than it solves.

  • There are nootropic alternatives to Adderall that can boost your focus and motivation without the awful crashes.

  • Nootropics, unlike amphetamine, are non-toxic and can even help protect your brain.

  • Since nootropics are not addictive, they are a better long-term solution for boosting focus and concentration than Adderall.

  • Most high-quality nootropics require no prescription and are widely available online.

Adderall can be a real gamble.

You take it and fly high for several hours, unleashing superhuman levels of productivity.

But eventually, the dose wears off, and you come crashing back to earth.

Your brain feels like mush, totally drained of dopamine, while you’re stuck on the couch, unable to find the motivation to brush your teeth.

Sound familiar?

If you’re like most people, you may be sick and tired of the up and down cycles of Adderall.

Whether you take Adderall by prescription or “off-label” (hey, no judgments here), you might be looking for a more sustainable alternative.

Luckily, more natural options, including nootropic supplements, diet, and lifestyle biohacks, serve as a replacement.

So if you’re tired of this endless boom and bust cycle, continue reading our list of the best holistic nootropic alternatives for Adderall.

How Adderall Works

Adderall is one of the most commonly prescribed stimulant medications for Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

As an amphetamine, it produces the fastest stimulant activity in the brain of all FDA-approved ADHD drugs.

Adderall’s main cognitive benefit is its ability to increase synaptic levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin through many different, complex mechanisms1Bertha K Madras 1, Gregory M Miller, Alan J Fischman. The Dopamine Transporter and attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder, Biol Psychiatry. 2005 .

The drug’s stimulant effects come via its ability to block the dopamine transporter (DAT), who’s job it is to clear dopamine out of the brain2Benjamin Boutrel, George F Koob. What Keeps Us Awake: The Neuropharmacology of Stimulants and Wakefulness-Promoting Medications, Sleep. 2004 .

This means that more dopamine stays in the brain for longer periods of time, thus creating a stimulating, euphoric cognitive state3Tara L White, David C Lott, Harriet de Wit. Personality and the Subjective Effects of Acute Amphetamine in Healthy Volunteers, Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006.

For Specific ADHD Nootropic Solutions Check-Out: 7 Best Nootropics for ADHD

Why Adderall Isn’t The Best ADHD Treatment

While there’s no doubting Adderall’s ability to boost brain activity, it’s efficacy in successfully treating ADHD longterm is debatable.

In a recent Cochrane review of the literature, researchers concluded that amphetamine treatment for ADHD “found no evidence that amphetamines improved ADHD symptom severity compared to other drug interventions4Xavier Castells, corresponding author Lídia Blanco‐Silvente, and Ruth Cunill. Amphetamines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults, Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 .”

They also found high rates of subjects dropping out of studies due to adverse events that call into question the drug’s safety profile.

The studies were also mostly short-term, averaging 5.3 weeks in length, which isn’t enough time to truly measure its long-term effects.

Overall, the Cochrane review, which is the highest standard of scientific research reviews, concluded that “none of the included studies had an overall low risk of bias,” and the evidence available for review is “of low or very low quality.”

This is because the pharmaceutical industry funds most scientific literature on using amphetamine medication like Adderall to treat ADHD, while some studies didn’t even disclose their funding.

This means the clinical research on amphetamine drugs like Adderall is simply not robust enough to truly determine if Adderall is safe to use in the long-term.

Adderall Side Effects

What goes up must come down. One of the main reasons for wanting an alternative to Adderall is to find something without all of the unpleasant side effects.

Common side effects include loss of appetite, insomnia, emotional lability, nervousness, fever, jitteriness, and social withdrawal5National Toxicology Program. NTP-CERHR Monograph on the Potential Human Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Amphetamines, NTP CERHR MON. 2005 .

Since Adderall is an amphetamine that quickly crosses the blood-brain barrier, it has the ability to take hold of your brain and create dependence.

Many people who attempt to quit Adderall have experienced the “Adderall crash,” which includes many uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that vary in severity depending on the person.

These symptoms include the above-listed side effects, irritability, proneness to crying, anxiety, sadness/unhappiness, panic attacks, severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and nightmares6D Efron 1, F Jarman, M Barker. Side Effects of Methylphenidate and Dexamphetamine in Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Double-Blind, Crossover Trial, Pediatrics. 1997 Oct .

Holistic Biohacks To Replace Adderall

ADHD, like many diseases, is a comprehensive disorder that involves more than just the brain.

In recent years many studies have come out that show ADHD is connected to some physical issues in the body, including gut health, diet, and heavy metal toxicity.

By addressing these issues, you may be able to lower your need for Adderall and safely improve your mental health in the long term.

Heal Your Gut

Most of the neurotransmitters that influence your brain are actually made in other parts of the body.7G W Lambert 1, G Eisenhofer, H S Cox, M Horne, V Kalff, M Kelly, G L Jennings, M D Esler. Direct Determination of Homovanillic Acid Release From the Human Brain, an Indicator of Central Dopaminergic Activity, Life Sci . 1991 Most notably dopamine and serotonin, the 2 neurotransmitters that deal most closely with mood, are made in the gut8Narek Israelyana and Kara Gross Margolis. Serotonin as a link between the gut-brain-microbiome axis in autism spectrum disorders ☆ , Pharmacol Res.. 2019 .

This is important to understand since the whole point of taking Adderall is to boost dopamine.

So the best way to lower your need for Adderall is to completely diminish the need for it in your life by naturally boosting dopamine.

And since we know that most dopamine in the body is made in the gut9Graeme Eisenhofer, Anders Åneman, Peter Friberg, Douglas Hooper, Lars Fåndriks, Hans Lonroth, Béla Hunyady, Eva Mezey . Substantial Production of Dopamine in the Human Gastrointestinal Tract , The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 1997 , optimizing your gut function is the number one place to start.

Easier said than done, I know.

Healing your gut involves optimizing gut bacteria and improving your digestion.

It’s also important to work with a practitioner who can run tests like organic acids, stool, and GI tests.

Functional medicine doctors can run SIBO tests to see if that is an issue.

It’s a process, but it can have major mental health benefits and help you kick Adderall to the curb when done right. Soon, I will have a complete guide to helping you do this.

Be sure to join our email list for updates on the release of my heal your gut guide.

Detox Heavy Metals and Chemicals

Heavy metals and toxic chemicals have become ubiquitous in the modern world.

Ever since the industrial revolution, the environment has become heavily polluted with toxins that are foreign to our natural bodies.

Every day we are inundated with substances from our food, air, and water that the body is reacting to in many ways. Whether its PCB’s and BPA’s10Yanru Li, Haibin Zhang, Hongxuan Kuang, Ruifang Fan , Caihui Cha , Guanyong Li , Zhiwei Luo , Qihua Pang . Relationship Between Bisphenol A Exposure and attention-deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder: A Case-Control Study for Primary School Children in Guangzhou, China , Environ Pollut . 2018 from plastics, glyphosate11Keith R. Fluegge, and Kyle R. Fluegge. Glyphosate Use Predicts ADHD Hospital Discharges in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Net (HCUPnet): A Two-Way Fixed-Effects Analysis , PLoS One. 2015 found in food, lead from gasoline, aluminum in beauty products, or cadmium found in drinking water, these chemicals accumulate over time in the body and build toxicity in the brain.

Lead specifically has been found to contribute to many neurological problems such as ADHD and working memory.12Susanna N Visser, Melissa L Danielson, Rebecca H Bitsko, Joseph R Holbrook, Michael D Kogan, Reem M Ghandour, Ruth Perou, Stephen J Blumberg. Trends in the Parent-Report of Health Care Provider-Diagnosed and Medicated attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder: United States, 2003-2011 , J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry . 2014

Lead disrupts the dopamine pathway, which is the main pathway Adderall works to boost.13Siying Huang, Howard Hu, Brisa N Sánchez, Karen E Peterson, Adrienne S Ettinger, Héctor Lamadrid-Figueroa, Lourdes Schnaas, Adriana Mercado-García, Robert O Wright, Niladri Basu, David E Cantonwine, Mauricio Hernández-Avila, Martha María Téllez-Rojo. Childhood Blood Lead Levels and Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Cross-Sectional Study of Mexican Children , Environ Health Perspect . 2016

Elevated levels of other metals such as antimony, cadmium, and mercury are also commonly found in the urine of many test subjects who experience ADHD.14Min-Jing Lee, Miao-Chun Chou, Wen-Jiun Chou, Chien-Wei Huang, Ho-Chang Kuo, Sheng-Yu Lee, and Liang-Jen Wang. Heavy Metals’ Effect on Susceptibility to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Implication of Lead, Cadmium, and Antimony , Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018

Knowing this, implementing some kind of detox protocol can help rid the body of these toxins and naturally boosting dopamine. Some good detox methods include:

  • Sweating (exercise and sauna)
  • Colon hydrotherapy
  • Regular movement

Diet

Eating a nutrient-dense, whole-foods diet can also help increase dopamine production and lower the need for Adderall.

Many processed foods include additives that pollute the brain and are correlated with neurological dysfunction.

Food additives have also been shown to disrupt the dopamine pathway15Ghada Mahmoud Khiralla , Safaa Ahmad Salem , Wagih Ahmad El-Malky. Effect of Natural and Synthetic Food Coloring Agents on the Balance of Some Hormones in Rats , International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition Engineering. 2015 and lead to instances of ADHD.16Laura J Stevens, John R Burgess, Mateusz A Stochelski, Thomas Kuczek. Amounts of Artificial Food Colors in Commonly Consumed Beverages and Potential Behavioral Implications for Consumption in Children , Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2014

Diets high in sugar and high fructose have also been shown to be neurotoxic, increasing the need for a stimulant like Adderall.17Lidy M. Pelsser, Klaas Frankena, Jan Toorman, and Rob Rodrigues Pereira. Diet and ADHD, Reviewing the Evidence: A Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials Evaluating the Efficacy of Diet Interventions on the Behavior of Children with ADHD, PLoS One. 2017

Foods that are great for the brain include:

  • Organic fruits and vegetables
  • Pasture-raised, locally sourced meats
  • Organ meats like liver, heart, bones, kidney
  • Wild-caught fish

Closest Legal Thing To Adderall Over The Counter

The Adderall comedown is no joke.

While a holistic, full-body solution is a great way to wean your body off of Adderall in the long-term, you’re going to need something to help fill in the gaps.

Nootropics are great to use for this purpose.

Some amazing nootropic supplements can keep your brain optimized while avoiding any withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to note that these products are not meant to replace Adderall.

They won’t give you the immediate boost you get from an amphetamine simply due to the profound differences in pharmacokinetics.

Nootropics can take a few weeks for your body to adapt and elicit a response.

However, everyone is different.

Some people get more of an immediate response from certain nootropics, while some people don’t respond as well.

This is due to your specific bio-individuality, including your current health, past health history, and genetic makeup.

As I mentioned above, it’s important to optimize your body holistically first so you can have a more positive response.

Read More: Why Nootropics Sold On Amazon Are Unsafe

Best Adderall Alternatives Nootropics

Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind is the most advanced nootropic formula on the market.

It includes 28 high-purity ingredients designed to maximize cognitive function.

This stack includes nootropic compounds, neuro-vitamins, amino acids, choline donors, and herbal adaptogens.

Each ingredient in isolation can make a significant impact on your neurochemistry.

When taken together, they display a powerful synergistic effect that can optimize vital neural pathways and processes.

If you're looking for a reliable over-the-counter Adderall alternative, Qualia Mind can be very helpful.

There are many ingredients, including DL-Phenylalanine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, and Mucuna Pruriens, that boost dopamine, which leads to better focus and concentration.

The added B-vitamins, vitamins C, and D3 work as co-factors to better optimize neurotransmitter effectiveness.

The caffeine also adds a boost of mental energy. A caffeine-free version is available too.

This stack is great for anyone who needs a major boost in brainpower.

Where To Buy Qualia Mind:

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Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is a preformulated Nootropic "stack" that includes 11 cognitive-enhancing ingredients that work synergistically to deliver next-level brain optimization.

As opposed to taking just one, or even a few individual nootropics, Mind Lab Pro's formulation is designed to give you the right doses of each nootropic to deliver the best results.

In regards to finding an alternative to adderall, you want something that boosts dopamine, mental processing speed, and mental energy without excess stimulation.

Mind Lab Pro includes a number of nootropics that work together to check these boxes.

You also get B-vitamin co-factors to better optimize absorbability.

I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.

Where To Buy Mind Lab Pro:

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Adrafinil

Of all the supplements on this list, adrafinil is probably the most stimulatory in the way that Adderall is (although to a significantly lesser degree).

Adrafinil is a prodrug of the prescription “smart pill” modafinil. The human body metabolizes adrafinil into modafinil, so you do not need a prescription to buy it.

This nootropic can help you stay awake and alert over long periods.

It seems to modulate the dopamine system somewhat, but it also acts on the histamine, GABA, and glutamate systems as well. The exact mechanisms of action are not completely clear.

However, we do know that adrafinil has powerful effects on focus, mood, and energy.

Although it is somewhat similar to Adderall, this nootropic does not have nearly the potential for damage or abuse.

If you need a little kick to get going, we think that adrafinil is a much healthier option.

Where To Buy Adrafinil:

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Aniracetam

PhotoMIX Ltd.

Pine bark extract has shown effectiveness against ADHD in some trials

Aniracetam for ADHD, Adderall alternatives

Aniracetam is a popular option for improving focus without the crash

Aniracetam is a common choice with a ton of research to back it up. Many people claim that it can improve focus and mood, similar to Adderall, but far more subtle.

This nootropic works on the brain’s AMPA and NDMA receptors, which are abundant throughout the brain.

Instead of dumping large amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine, aniracetam modulates how glutamate flows through the brain.

This process makes it a much more sustainable choice in the long run.

It seems to improve concentration by encouraging connections in the brain rather than by overstimulation.

It also has a reasonably low side-effects profile and can be taken every day without worrying about a crash.

That said, we do recommend taking it with a good choline source to optimize its efficacy.

Researchers saw a definite improvement in ADHD children who took pine bark extract in a few different trials.

Pine bark extract can increase the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

However, unlike Adderall, it does this sustainably and naturally, without hot wiring, your brain chemistry.

It can also lower inflammation in the brain, which is another possible cause of attention deficit.

Where To Buy Aniracetam:

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Sulbutiamine

Sulbutiamine is one nootropic that some say is similar to Adderall. It has a noticeable stimulant “kick” when it takes effect, although far less than amphetamines do.

This nootropic is just a synthetic form of the essential vitamin B1.

The difference is that it can cross your blood-brain barrier faster than regular B1, and it’s fat-soluble. These two benefits allow our brains to absorb it very quickly and start using it.

When you take sulbutiamine, this sudden jolt of B1 can have several advantages.

B1 is necessary for your entire brain and nervous system, and by optimizing these processes, sulbutiamine can have a significant effect on focus and energy.

And, because it’s just a vitamin, there’s no unnatural surge or crash. We do recommend cycling it so you won’t develop a tolerance, though.

Although there have not been any clinical trials regarding sulbutiamine and ADHD specifically, some users swear by this one as an Adderall replacement.

Where To Buy Sulbutiamine:

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NALT

NALT may raise dopamine levels, which could have an effect on focus and memory

NALT (n-acetyl l-tyrosine) is a derivative of the amino acid tyrosine, and some people find that it improves their focus and mood in a similar way to Adderall.

Tyrosine is a necessary building block to form dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline. These neurotransmitters are crucial to paying attention and feeling good.

NALT happens to be a more bioavailable form of l-tyrosine, meaning your body absorbs it and starts using it much quicker. This process can provide an Adderall-Esque boost for some people.

Because NALT provides the building blocks for the neurotransmitters that Adderall depletes, some people use it alongside their medication to replenish those stores.

Where To Buy NALT:

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DLPA

Similar to NALT, DLPA (a combination of d- and l- phenylalanine) can help your body make the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

Some users take DLPA as an alternative for Adderall.

However, there are not many high-quality studies to back this particular use up, so take it with a grain of salt. Some initial trials saw improvements in patients; others did not.

Where To Buy DLPA:


Pine Bark Extract

PhotoMIX Ltd.

Pine bark extract has shown effectiveness against ADHD in some trials

French Maritime Pine Bark Extract (sometimes sold as Pycnogenol) has a significant amount of evidence that it can help with ADHD.

Researchers saw a definite improvement in ADHD children who took pine bark extract in a few different trials.

Pine bark extract can increase the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

However, unlike Adderall, it does this sustainably and naturally, without hot wiring, your brain chemistry.

It can also lower inflammation in the brain, which is another possible cause of attention deficit.

Where To Buy Pine Bark Extract:

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Noopept

Selegiline (sold a Deprenyl) is a prescription nootropic drug that may treat ADHD in some people, without the extreme effects as Adderall.

There are some clinical trials and many anecdotal reports that suggest this could be the case.

Selegiline is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor or MAOI. Monoamine oxidase is the enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

So, by inhibiting them, you increase the number of neurotransmitters that are available for more extended periods. This process can have a profound effect on mood and energy.

Because selegiline prevents the breakdown of neurotransmitters rather than directly increasing, it may be safer and less prone to side-effects than Adderall.

Where To Buy Selegiline:


Conclusion

We want to hear from you. Are you a student or professional using over the counter nootropics to help study and/or treat ADD? Let us know in the comments!

About the author:

Erik Abramowitz

Erik Abramowitz is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.

As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.

Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.

Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.

You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.

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