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Natural Alternatives to Adderall
Three natural alternatives to Adderall for ADHD treatment.
by Brad Chase
Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and narcolepsy.
However, just like all medications, side effects might occur. In some cases, medicines might not sufficiently control an individual’s ADHD symptoms.
How Adderall Works
Adderall contains four amphetamine salts: amphetamine aspartate monohydrate, amphetamine sulfate, dextroamphetamine sulfate and dextroamphetamine saccharate. Of the two forms of amphetamine, Adderall contains 75% dextroamphetamine and 25% levoamphetamine.
The amphetamines are stimulants with dextroamphetamine being more active in the central nervous system while levoamphetamine is more active in the peripheral nervous system.
The inclusion of both forms of amphetamines in Adderall has its advantages. For example, levoamphetamine allows Adderall to provide a quick relief of ADHD symptoms as well as longer lasting benefits.
However, the use of both dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine in Adderall means that the drug will produce more side effects than other ADHD medications containing only dextroamphetamine. Because of these, some ADHD sufferers who are placed on Adderall may seek alternatives.
Another reason to look for Adderall alternative is its high potential for abuse. Since the drug contains amphetamine salts, it is commonly abused both as a recreational drug and also as a performance-enhancing drug especially by students studying for exams.
Adderall is available both as instant release and extended release formulations. Its extended release formulation allows for less frequent dosing of the drug.
The four amphetamine salts are contained in equal proportions in extended release Adderall. Here, the drug molecules are formulated as microbeads with two different release properties.
The first set of drug beads are released instantly upon administration while the second set dissolves slowly and only release the amphetamine salts 4 hours after administration.
Here are three natural alternatives to Adderall that you can consider:
#1 Natural Alternative to Adderall - Lifestyle Updates:
Making a few modifications in lifestyle can go a long way in improving ADHD symptoms in children and adults.
Regardless of which ADHD medicines are used, there are several ways through which you can help children with ADHD.
Any kind of behavioral change involves a well-balanced ADHD management plan, including educational, social, and mental therapy.
Some of the different types of therapies for ADHD include behavioral interventions; psychotherapy; social skills training; behavior therapy; support groups; and parenting skill training.
Sometimes, all that a kid with ADHD needs is proper counseling support. Many times, the entire family may need help as the condition affects the family as a whole.
If lifestyle modifications alone do not help in improving ADHD symptoms, then medications, such as Adderall, may be necessary.
#2 Alternatives to Adderall - Other Stimulants & Natural Supplements:
Adderall is one of the best known stimulant medications for ADHD. However, there are several choices that may be considered as Adderall alternatives.
Stimulants are considerably effective, but they are also controlled substances. As a consequence, there are strict guidelines regarding how stimulants are prescribed.
There are several ADHD stimulant medications that contain similar ingredients, but differ in how long it lasts or how it is released (instant release vs extended release).
Apart from Adderall, other stimulant medication options include: Desoxyn (methamphetamine); Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine); Ritalin; Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine); Focalin (dexmethylphenidate); and Focalin XR.
Methylphenidate is also a psychostimulant. However, its mechanism of action differs slightly from that of the amphetamines in Adderall.
Where the amphetamines are substituted for dopamine and norepinephrine as substrates for transporters found at the junction between nerves, methylphenidate binds to and blocks those transporters.
The net effect in both cases is, however, the same: dopamine and norepinephrine are allowed to act at the synapses of neurons for longer.
In comparison, Ritalin produces a more targeted effect than Adderall because methylphenidate acts mostly on the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
The prefrontal cortex is known to control impulse, concentration and decision-making. Therefore, this area of the brain determines the severity of the symptoms of ADHD.
Because Ritalin contains only one amphetamine-like substance and Adderall contains four amphetamine salts, Ritalin produces fewer side effects than Adderall. Therefore, it can serve as a replacement for ADHD patients who respond well to the amphetamines in Adderall but have too many side effects.
It should be noted, though, that some ADHD patients actually respond better to the mixed amphetamine salts in Adderall.
The ADHD drug Concerta is similar to Ritalin. It also contains methylphenidate and has the same mechanism of action as Ritalin. It can serve as a replacement for Adderall especially Adderall XR (extended release) since Concerta is an extended release formulation of methylphenidate.
Another stimulant alternative to Adderall is Vyvanse. Vyvanse contains lisdexamphetamine which is a prodrug containing dextroamphetamine and L-lysine.
Vyvanse can replace Adderall especially for patients who are more likely to abuse Adderall for its amphetamine content.
Because the amphetamine in Vyvanse is tied up, it is not released until it reaches certain enzymes found in red blood cells. Therefore, Vyvanse has a much lower potential for abuse than Adderall.
Vyvanse can substitute for Adderall for another reason. Since its dextroamphetamine content is bound up with an amino acid, the amphetamine lasts longer in the body in this form. Therefore, ADHD patients who require longer acting amphetamines can also use Vyvanse instead of Adderall.
#3 Alternative to Adderall - Non-stimulant ADHD medications:
At present, there are only two non-stimulant medications used for ADHD treatment: Strattera (atomoxetine) and Intuniv (guanfacine ER).
Strattera: It was the first non-stimulant medication approved for ADHD treatment. The medicine is approved for both children and adults.
Unlike other medications for ADHD, Strattera is not a controlled substance. This means that it is not likely to be abused.
As it is not a controlled substance, the guidelines for prescribing and dispensing this ADHD medication are not as strict.
Unlike other prescriptions for stimulants, Strattera prescriptions can be phoned or faxed to the pharmacy; and it can be easily refilled without a new prescription every time.
Strattera contains Atomoxetine HCl. It was first tested as an antidepressant since it belongs to the drug class, selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (drugs belonging to both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor classes are known antidepressants).
However Atomoxetine failed as an antidepressant but was subsequently found effective for ADHD.
Because Strattera is not a stimulant, it is the most common Adderall replacement for ADHD patients who prefer not to take psychostimulants or who are most likely to abuse amphetamines.
Atomoxetine produces its beneficial effect by mechanisms similar to the amphetamines’. It inhibits the clearance of dopamine and norepinephrine from the synapses and also increases the levels of these neurotransmitters at those sites.
Intuniv: This non-stimulant medication is approved for treating ADHD, in individuals above 6 years, through 17 years old. It is not yet approved for use in adults.
Just like Strattera, Intuniv is not a controlled substance; hence it is not likely to be abused. It is a long-acting form of guanfacine.
Tenex, the short-acting version of guanfacine is an approved medication for treating high blood pressure. It has also been used for quite sometime as an off-label medication for treating ADHD symptoms.
For more information, read our articles 4 Ritalin Alternatives, 3 Adderall Alternatives, Adderall vs Vyvanse and Adderall vs Strattera.
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