ADHD can be crippling.
While not life-threatening, the inability to stay focused on a single task can significantly affect your quality of life.
Every moment brings a new creative thought worth entertaining.
You open your laptop determined to do one simple thing, and before you know it, you have so many open browser tabs you can’t find the one you actually need to be on.
Over time this inability to stay focused can significantly reduce your rate of success.
The good news is that there are safe, non-addictive, non-pharmaceutical treatments that can help.
Mind Lab Pro, for instance, has the right blend of nutrients to optimize your brain’s focus capabilities.
This is my top choice to boost focus, especially for anyone new to nootropics.
But, as you’ll read in this article, there’s way more to the story.
What Are The Best Nootropics for ADHD - Quick Answers
|Mind Lab Pro||#1 Nootropic For Beginners||Learn More|
|Magnesium||#1 Magnesium Product||Learn More|
|Qualia Mind||Most Nootropics Per Serving||Learn More|
|Sulbutiamine||Highly stimulating vitamin B derivative||Learn More|
|Adrafinil||A legal over-the-counter version on Modafinil||Learn More|
|Aniracetam||One of the most popular nootropics for focus and mood||Learn More|
|DLPA||Non-stimulating nootropic for ADHD and mood||Learn More|
|Noopept||World's #1 selling nootropic (and for good reason)||Learn More|
|NALT||Effective, natural way to support dopamine||Learn More|
|Pine Bark Extract||All natural ADHD remedy||Learn More|
|Citicoline||Supercharged source of choline for your brain||Learn More|
The Best Natural ADHD Treatments
In addition to nootropics, there are many affordable, natural options that are highly effective at treating ADHD.
In fact, many top doctors and specialists regularly recommend these to patients as either a substitute for or in addition to prescription meds. These options include:
- Diet and Lifestyle Intervention
Probiotics, Gut Health, and ADHD
ADHD is a full-body experience.
While standard treatments focus solely on the brain, the actual pathology of this disorder is more complicated.
For example, over 50% of neural dopamine is made by bacteria in your gut.1Rufeng Xue, et al. Peripheral Dopamine Controlled by Gut Microbes Inhibits Invariant Natural Killer T Cell-Mediated Hepatitis, Front. Immunol. 2018
This is important since traditional ADHD medication is designed to enhance dopamine production.
By optimizing your gut’s ability to produce dopamine, you can enhance the main pathway that affects your focus.
The best way to boost beneficial gut bacteria is through probiotic supplementation.
My top probiotic choice is CogniBiotics from BiOptimizers.
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ADHD and Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most crucial minerals your body needs to work optimally.
It’s a major co-factor in over 300 metabolic processes that ultimately affect your overall physical and mental health.
Unfortunately, most people are severely magnesium deficient due to its absence from the food supply.
Recent research into magnesium’s influence on ADHD points to a statistically significant relationship between magnesium deficiency and ADHD.2Mohammad Effatpanah, et al. Magnesium status and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A meta-analysis, Psychiatry Res. 2019
No matter what nootropic or medication you use, supplementing with Magnesium must absolutely be apart of your regimen to maximize results.
My #1 magnesium recommendation is Magnesium Breakthrough because it includes 7 different forms of Magnesium that are needed to optimize both mind and body magnesium status.
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- Stress Reduction
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- Sharper Cognition
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Diet and Lifestyle Impact on ADHD
It should come as no surprise to learn that food has a major impact on how you feel.
But did you know that dietary habits and lifestyle can contribute to ADHD?
New research shows that metabolic syndrome, obesity, and high inflammatory blood markers, all caused by inflammatory diets, significantly increase symptoms of ADHD.3Zohar Landau. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity, the Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes Curr Diab Rep. 2019 4Laura LaChance, MD, et al. Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio in Patients with ADHD: A Meta-Analysis J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2016
Controlling metabolism is a critical piece of keeping your mind focused, optimized, and free of ADHD.
The top tool for keeping metabolism in check is the Lumen Metabolism checker.
- Accurately Tracks Metabolism
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- Personalized Nutrition Adivce
- Easy-To-Use Design
Using the Lumen after meals and throughout the day allows you to see how different foods and activities affect your metabolism. They even include dietary recommendations to help you find foods for your specific needs!
How Common Is ADHD?
It’s important to note that these numbers reflect only those kids who actually receive an official ADHD diagnosis.
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ADHD and Comorbidities
ADHD is infamous for being accompanied by many comorbidities.
It’s not uncommon to suffer from ADHD while also dealing with other mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.8Belén Roselló, Carmen Berenguer, Inmaculada Baixauli, Álvaro Mira, Jose Martinez-Raga & Ana Miranda. Empirical examination of executive functioning, ADHD associated behaviors, and functional impairments in adults with persistent ADHD, remittent ADHD, and without ADHD, BMC Psychiatry volume. 2020
In adults, especially, these comorbidities can lead to functional impairments in some life activities, including an affinity to risky behaviors, employment difficulties, relationship problems, emotional problems, and restlessness.
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Traditional ADHD Treatments
There are several pharmaceutical treatments available for anyone diagnosed with ADHD. These include:
- Amphetamine (Adderall)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)
- Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
These drugs help boost dopamine in the brain, but with different courses of action to do so.
Amphetamine is the fastest route to boosting dopamine levels in the brain, while methylphenidate acts more to slow dopamine uptake. This helps the brain preserve the levels of dopamine that are already there.
Lisdexamfetamine is a prodrug of amphetamine. This means your body metabolizes it into dextroamphetamine, which is an active ingredient in Adderall.
The advantage of Lisdexamfetamine is that because it acts slower in the body, it should be safer than traditional amphetamine.
All 3 of these drugs are classified as schedule 2 by the Drug Enforcement Administration/Food and Drug Administration (DEA/FDA) and come with a high potential for abuse.9Nazila Sharbaf Shoar; Raman Marwaha; Mohammed Molla.. Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine, StatPearls. 2020
These drugs can do wonders and come with harmful side effects, including irritability, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart problems, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, and addiction.
As anyone who has suffered the dreaded Adderall crash can tell you, sometimes the benefit is not worth the pain.
Do Nootropics Work For ADHD
Nootropics can be a powerful alternative to traditional ADHD medications.
The nootropics below are shown to boost brain function by more foundational means like boosting acetylcholine activity, supporting BDNF function, and optimizing ATP production.
Some nootropics can even directly boost dopamine production.
This is not to say that nootropics deliver the same, stimulating force that you get from something like Adderall or Ritalin.
These drugs are designed to manipulate dopamine production while nootropics take a more indirect, holistic approach.
While not as potent as traditional drugs, nootropics are highly effective, non-addictive, and core with little-to-no side-effects.
Nootropics also are a useful tool to help come off these harder stimulants while mitigating withdrawal symptoms.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some over the counter nootropics that can be used to help ADHD.
What The Experts Say About Treating ADHD
A healthy diet can provide an effective complementary approach to alleviating some symptoms of ADHD. – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
Previous studies showed that certain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids may contribute to the pathology of ADHD (discussed below). Thus, a wide range of nutritional supplements (vitamins and minerals) have been proposed as potential adjunct and alternative ADHD treatments. – Journal of Neural Transplantation and Plasticity
The 10 Best Nootropics For ADHD
#1 Nootropic For Beginners
- Mind Lab Pro is my top stack choice for combatting ADHD.
- It's 11 high-potency ingredients can improve your ability to focus and concentrate without overstimulating your nervous system.
- The nootropics in this formula boost focus and concentration by enhancing acetylcholine, dopamine, and GABA.
- Adaptogens like Rhodiola and Bacopa increase mental energy while lowering your stress response.
- Compared to ADHD drugs, this stack isn't addictive and won't leave you feeling overstimulated.
- The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients.
- I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.
#1 Magnesium Product
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in over 300 metabolic processes in both the mind and body.
These metabolic processes include neurotransmitter synthesis including dopamine.
In today’s hectic society filled with nutrient-depleted food, magnesium deficiency is on the rise.Subsequently most people with ADHD exhibit low levels of magnesium.10T Kozielec, et al. Assessment of magnesium levels in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Magnes Res. 2006
In clinical studies, supplementation with Magnesium has shown effective in improving ADHD symptoms. 11M Mousain-Bosc, et al. Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. I. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, Magnes Res. 2006
Ultimately, magnesium is highly effective at calming the body’s stress response, inducing relaxation, and steadying the mind.
Learn more about how Magnesium works in treating ADHD and other symptoms.
Most Nootropics Per Serving
- Combating ADHD is one of the top features of Qualia Mind's advanced formula.
- Ingredients like DL-Phenylalanine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, and Mucuna Pruriens boost dopamine which leads to better focus and concentration.
- Vitamins B6 and C help the conversion of Dopamine to Norepinephrine which is important for helping your brain properly use these neurotransmitters.
- This powerful stack is great for anyone who needs a major boost in focus and concentration.
- Caffeinated and non-caffeinated versions are available
Highly stimulating vitamin B derivative
Sulbutiamine is an ADHD nootropic that some say is similar to Adderall. It has a noticeable stimulant “kick” when it takes effect, although far less than amphetamines. It also doesn't have nearly the side-effects.
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. It is also fat-soluble, so your brain can absorb it very quickly.
So, when you take sulbutiamine, your body gets a sudden jolt of vitamin B1. This boost can affect many different processes because B1 is necessary for your entire brain and nervous system.
You need B1 to produce ATP, which is the energy source of your cells.
One study found that after taking thiamine for two months, a large group of women reported a higher mood. Subjects reported feeling “more clear-headed, composed and energetic” in general.12Benton D, Griffiths R, Haller J. Thiamine supplementation mood and cognitive functioning, Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1997
By optimizing this process, sulbutiamine can have a nootropic effect on focus and energy that can help treat some of the symptoms of ADHD.
Although there have not been any clinical trials regarding sulbutiamine and ADHD specifically, some users swear by having this nootropic in their Adderall alternative ADHD stack.
Learn more about boosting your mood and memory with Sulbutiamine.
A legal over-the-counter version on Modafinil
Adrafinil is a prodrug of the “smart pill” modafinil. It is an OTC substance that your body metabolizes into modafinil, and you do not need a prescription to buy it.
First developed as a wakefulness-promoting drug to combat narcolepsy, Adrafinil helps with ADHD according to preliminary research.13Modafinil for cognitive neuroenhancement in healthy non-sleep-deprived subjects: A systematic review, Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 14Milgram NW, et al. Oral administration of adrafinil improves discrimination learning in aged beagle dogs, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2000
This nootropic can help you stay awake and alert over long periods. It seems to modulate the dopamine system, which might help people living with ADHD stay on task.15Lindsay SE, Gudelsky GA, Heaton PC. Use of modafinil for the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Ann Pharmacother. 2006
Learn more about adrafinil for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and more.
One of the most popular nootropics for focus and mood
Aniracetam is a very popular choice in the racetam class of nootropics with a ton of research to back it up. It can work for ADHD by improving overall focus and mood.16Ingvar M, et al. Enhancement by an ampakine of memory encoding in humans, Exp Neurol. 1997
This nootropic works on a more subtle pathway than drugs like Adderall or Ritalin. Instead of dumping large amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine, aniracetam works by modulating the glutamate system.
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.
Read more about Aniracetam for increasing focus and how it works.
Non-stimulating nootropic for ADHD and mood
DLPA (a combination of d- and l- phenylalanine) can help your body make the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which may be lacking if you have ADHD.
This nootropic could provide the building blocks to make up this deficit.
Some users take DLPA for this reason. 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.17Wood DR, Reimherr FW, Wender PH.Treatment of attention deficit disorder with DL-phenylalanine, Psychiatry Res. 1985 Sep
Read more about DLPAs potential for treating ADHD.
World's #1 selling nootropic (and for good reason)
Noopept is one of the most popular nootropics out there, and it can undoubtedly help with ADHD for some users.
It is similar to the racetams but is much more potent. Noopept use has plenty of anecdotal and clinical evidence.
Noopept has a mild stimulatory effect and can significantly improve focus and concentration while it is active.
It works by altering the glutamate system, as opposed to working on dopamine or norepinephrine.
It also has neuroprotective qualities. Noopept can increase neuroplasticity and create new, stronger connections in the brain as opposed to traditional ADHD drugs, which seem to reinforce old, possibly addictive pathways.
Effective doses are only 10-60mg. For all these reasons, many users use Noopept as a foundation of their ADHD stack.
Learn about the nootropic Noopept benefits, dosage, stacking and side effects.
Effective, natural way to support dopamine
NALT (n-acetyl l-tyrosine) is a derivative of tyrosine, a critical amino acid. This nootropic acts as a precursor to dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline. It is much more potent than healthy tyrosine and gets used by your body much faster.
Some people use NALT as an alternative to ADHD drugs, enjoying the energy and focus it brings. Others use it alongside their medication.
Because NALT provides the building blocks for the neurotransmitters that Adderall depletes, some people use it at the end of the day to replenish those stores.18Fernstrom JD, Fernstrom MH. Tyrosine, phenylalanine, and catecholamine synthesis and function in the brain, J Nutr. 2007 19Marty Hinz, et al. Treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with monoamine amino acid precursors and organic cation transporter assay interpretation, Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011
Some people also find that this nootropic also increases their mood.
All natural ADHD remedy
Pine Bark Extract is a potentially powerful all-natural nootropic derived from the Pinus pinaster
French Maritime Pine Bark Extract (sometimes sold as Pycnogenol) has clinically proven benefits for ADHD.
Multiple studies show that it is effective for children with attention problems.
Although there have not been any studies done on adults, it is not unreasonable to assume these results could translate to older patients as well.20Dvoráková M, et al Urinary catecholamines in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): modulation by a polyphenolic extract from pine bark (pycnogenol), Nutr Neurosci. 2007 21Dvoráková M, et al. . The effect of polyphenolic extract from pine bark, Pycnogenol on the level of glutathione in children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Redox Rep. 2006 22Trebatická J, et al Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol, Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006
Pine bark extract can help ADHD by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
ADHD is notorious for the low levels of these neurotransmitters. It can also lower inflammation, another possible factor in this condition.
Supercharged source of choline for your brain
Citicoline is the most bioavailable source of choline for your brain. Getting adequate levels of choline is important for optimizing attention and focus.
It’s best used in combination with a racetam, or acetylcholinesterase inhibitor like Huperzine A. Citicoline has also shown benefits for ADHD when used with caffeine. 23Steven E. Bruce, et al. Improvements in Concentration, Working Memory, and Sustained Attention Following Consumption of a Natural Citicoline-Caffeine Beverage, Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014
Since citicoline has shown the ability to increase the release of dopamine, it is a prime candidate as a nootropic for ADHD. It can also improve mood and memory which are both often seen with ADHD.
Some people also find that this nootropic also increases their mood.
So, there are several options if you are trying to treat your ADHD with nootropics.
Some people are wary of traditional medication’s drawbacks and are willing to try over the counter supplements.
Although research may be minimal for some of them, that does not necessarily mean they may or may not work for you.
As with anything, please be cautious and listen to your body. Stop taking any supplements if you feel an adverse reaction.
Hopefully, one (or a combination) of the nootropics above can help!