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Natural Alternatives to Adderall
Three natural alternatives to Adderall for ADHD treatment.
Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and narcolepsy. The medication is part of a group of ADHD medications called stimulants.
Adderall is effective in alleviating ADHD symptoms in most children and they tolerate it well. However, just like all medications, side effects might occur. In some cases, medicines might not sufficiently control an individual’s ADHD symptoms.
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.
Adderall is not only used for children and adults with ADHD, but is often taken under the table by high schoolers and college students. Since Adderall improves focus, many non ADHD students use Adderall to boost performance on tests, during finals, or to simply get ahead on school work. This risky practice may not have any benefit at all, and can lead to dependency (which can also happen in individuals who do have ADHD as well).
According to research, Adderall is considered safe and non habit-forming when taken as prescribed by a doctor. Doses will vary depending on a person's weight, severity of ADHD, and other factors. One study found that taking Adderall was able to prevent brain abnormalities in participants with ADHD. However, Adderall neurotoxicity is a known problem with the medication even at prescribed doses. Adderall damages the dopaminergic neurons which can increase a person's risk of developing Parkinson's disease when they get older.
Adderall also carries other dangerous side effects like oxidative stress and prevents the brain from creating antioxidant defense, which could cause serious brain damage over the long term, possibly increasing the risk foe depression, and Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
Because of these risks, many parents, caregivers, and adults with ADHD would rather not take Adderall even on a short-term basis. Luckily, studies have found that many alternatives to Adderall reduce the symptoms of ADHD as effectively, and even more effectively in some cases, than Adderall.
Many studies support the use of alternatives to Adderall. A few of these studies are mentioned below:
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.
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.
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 lisdexamfetamine 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.
At present, there are only two non-stimulant medications used for ADHD treatment: Strattera (atomoxetine) and Intuniv (guanfacine ER).
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.
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.
Many companies have created natural supplement blends that combine many of the natural supplements shown to have some benefit on ADHD symptoms. The top supplement blends for ADHD are listed below:
Listol is a formula specifically designed to boost focus, concentration, and working memory. Listol is a formula that is evidence-based, and all ingredients are included only because multiple studies have backed the use of the ingredient for children and adults with ADHD.
Ingredients in Listol:
ADD-Care is a homeopathic supplement blend for children and adults with ADHD. The formula contains homeopathic remedies that are designed to improve focus, calm the mind, and prevent sleep problems commonly associated with ADHD.
ADD-Care is based on principles of homeopathy, which is the concept that like-cures-like (in this case, offering small doses of stimulating ingredients to produce calm).
Ingredients in ADD-Care
Alpha Brain is a supplement that contains multiple natural supplements to alleviate the effects of other ingredients in the supplement. The ingredients are designed to boost the effectiveness of the other supplements in the capsules, and provide clear thinking, nutrient boosts, improved nerve signaling, and healthy neural tissue.
Ingredients in Alpha Brain
Addrena Focus Pep is an herbal supplement designed to directly replace Adderall, hence the similar name. The supplement blend is designed to improve concentration, focus, boost motivation, and prevent procrastination. Some users report that this product does have crashes in energy levels once you stop taking the supplement regularly.
Ingredients in Addrena Focus Pep
AddTabz is another herbal supplement blend designed to mimic the effects of Adderall without the dangerous side effects. Reviewers state that this product can improve attention span, boost energy levels, focus productivity, and improve concentration ability.
Ingredients in AddTabz
AdderRx is a nootropic supplement blend designed to boost concentration and learning ability over time. AdderRx is reported to have no side effects, and also has a reported benefit of preventing insomnia at night as the supplement boosts energy in a healthy way during the day.
Ingredients in AdderRx
The following stand-alone supplements, herbs, extracts, vitamins, and minerals have been shown to have positive benefits on individuals with ADHD. You can consume these supplements in natural form through food in many cases, or purchase a standalone supplement to take daily if it is missing from the ADHD supplement blend you like best.
Piracetam is similar to GABA, but it doesn't suppress the normal function of GABA in your body like some other compounds might. Piracetam modulates cholinergic acid and glutamatergic acid and provides protection for the brain. The supplement can also boost neuroplasticity and reduce social anxiety.
Aniracetam is one of the fastest-acting supplements for ADHD. The compound is simply a concentrated form of pircetam. This speeds the process of improving signal speed in the brain and creating healthy short-term and long-term memories. Additionally, concentrations of aniracetam should boost mood and energy levels in most individuals.
Noopept is a neuropeptide that acts similarly to piracetam. This provides benefits like stronger brain tissue, memory support, boosted mood, and increased concentration ability. This supplement also has the added ability to support healthy tissue growth in the brain, improving elasticity and reducing long-term brain degeneration.
All the B vitamins (from 1-12) are essential for brain function. Many individuals with ADHD are deficient in crucial B vitamins like folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is also responsible for energy production and regulation, which means a lack of B12 could mean you're awake much too long at night and too little during the day. A daily dose of B vitamins according to your body's needs will help prevent issues in the brain related to a lack of B vitamins. There is no danger of overdosing as B vitamins are water soluble and the body will eliminate any extra vitamins it doesn't need.
Pine bark extract has been shown to benefit individuals with ADHD. According to French studies, the pine bark extract is able to boost blood flow to the brain, eliminating some of the common "brain fog" associated with ADHD.
Many individuals with ADHD are often low in zinc. Zinc is essential for proper brain health and activity. A lack of zinc will increase learning problems, symptoms of ADHD, and lethargy. Low zinc levels can also lead to mental retardation in extreme cases. Supplementing with zinc will boost brain function and help all brain activity fun more smoothly. Copper should always be taken along with zinc to prevent an overdose of one or the other.
DMAE is a form of choline essential for brain health. The biggest benefit that DMAE has in the brain is its ability to reduce age pigmentation in the brain. Brain degeneration due to aging is a common problem among Americans, and supplementing with DMAE may help prevent some age-related problems in the brain and improve memory, plasticity, and clarity as we age.
In the brain, GABA acts as a neurotransmitter for other chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine. Without GABA, symptoms like depression and anxiety are more common. Individuals with ADHD are more susceptible to symptoms of depression and anxiety, possibly due to problems with neurotransmission in the brain.
Magnesium is a supplement that individuals with ADHD can use. Many individuals with ADHD are also low in magnesium (as are most Americans). Magnesium improves mental clarity and is necessary for the proper function of all cells in the body.
Iron levels are often lower in individuals with ADHD than individuals who do not have ADHD. Researchers are not sure why individuals with ADHD tend to have low iron levels, but many of the symptoms of anemia can overlap with ADHD symptoms, including trouble sleeping, a foggy brain, and lack of motivation. Adding more iron to your diet is an easy way to reverse these common brain problems.
Although we usually think of calcium as benefiting bones, it is also used in the brain and muscles. Calcium in the brain is used for creating new healthy brain cells, preventing excessive aging of brain cells, and preserving your memory.
Phosphatidylserine is an amino acid used in the brain to improve brain signaling and boost overall brain function and health. Supplementing with phosphatidylserine will benefit the brain on multiple levels.
Glycine is a protein amino acid that is necessary for all functions of the body. Your body can make glycine on its own, but for many individuals with ADHD, your protein needs are higher than that of non-ADHD friends. Adding this form of protein in supplement form will ensure your body has the protein it needs to function properly.
If you don't want to take Adderall to treat ADHD, you have other options. Several other medications on the market have been shown to have similar benefits for individuals with ADHD without causing serious side effects. Additionally, many supplement blends and stand-alone supplements also have scientific evidence for their benefits for the symptoms for ADHD. Combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, the worse symptoms of ADHD can be a thing of the past.
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Listol helps increase concentration and focus in kids and adults.