Best Adderall Alternatives

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In a world of distractions and competition, it’s only natural to want to strive for more. When it comes to cognitive and physical improvement, Adderall meets much of the user’s “needs” and is often thought of as a nootropic. Some people use Adderall for medical purposes, while others do not necessarily need Adderall to work but take Adderall to gain an edge in work or school.

As you will come to learn, there are safer and non-addictive ways to achieve the desired effects. But let’s first focus on what Adderall is, so you know what to replace with.

What is Adderall? #

Adderall is a drug combination containing four salts of the two amphetamines. Its incredibly effective for ADHD, as well as in boosting focus, enhancing concentration, and enhancing performance.

“Adderall is a combination medication containing four salts of amphetamine. Adderall is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is also used as an athletic performance enhancer and cognitive enhancer, and recreationally as an aphrodisiac and euphoriant. It is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the phenethylamine class. Adderall is generally well-tolerated and effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy.

At therapeutic doses, Adderall causes emotional and cognitive effects such as euphoria, change in desire for sex, increased wakefulness, and improved cognitive control. At these doses, it induces physical effects such as a faster reaction time, fatigue resistance, and increased muscle strength.

In contrast, much larger doses of Adderall can impair cognitive control, cause rapid muscle breakdown, or induce a psychosis (e.g., delusions and paranoia).” [1]

Still, Adderall is one of the world’s most prescribed stimulants, with many doctors seeing it as the optimal solution to manage narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and other sleep-related disorders. However, many consider its side effects to be too much, causing Adderall to solve a problem while creating another one.

Adderall is also highly addictive, and there are many unfortunate cases of children checking for Adderall addiction in rehabilitation. Especially in the US, this is a real problem.

Fortunately, other substances act similarly and are significantly safer than Adderall. Although most of them are not as powerful, some are surprisingly effective and come very close to achieving the same effects.

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What Are the Uses of Adderall? #

Adderall has been prescribed for some people, many people use it off-label. It may vary from those who use it for purposes off-label. Some people may enjoy its socially enhancing effects, while others may use it as a tool in life to achieve more.

You may use it, or you may intend to use it. The main question you should ask yourself is, “What do I want to get out of the experience?”. Some solutions might work better for you than others, and potency isn’t all.

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What Are the Adderall Alternatives? #

Adderall is not a sustainable solution, whether it is used to treat mental problems or to gain an edge in work or school as a cognitive enhancer. Also, ordering Adderall online is illegal, which is why it is best to look for legal alternatives to Adderall that meets your needs. With some of the best Adderall alternatives that are both safer and more effective for your purposes, you can easily get the same benefits.

Natural Adderall Alternatives #

L-Theanine & Caffeine #

L-theanine is an amino acid widely consumed through green tea.

As a nootropic, L-Theanine is not precisely known for its stimulating effects, although the usual way it is consumed would make you believe it is responsible for stimulation. Green tea also contains caffeine, which is part of the experience’s stimulation.

Through its action on alpha brain waves, L-Theanine produces a state of mindful relaxation, the same that is affected during meditation.

However, the amount of L-theanine found in green tea is too low, and you’d have to drink about four cups of tea to eat a moderate dose of L-theanine. This would make it difficult for you to identify the effects of L-theanine, as you would also consume abundant quantities of caffeine.

Supplementing L-theanine with caffeine, or alternatively, with your usual cup of coffee, is effective in increasing focus and energy levels, minus the “stimulating jitters” that results from caffeine sometimes. L-theanine cancels the jitters or the over stimulation some people tend to get as a reaction to caffeine.

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Noopept #

Noopept is a racetam-like nootropic that improves memory, focus, and boosts brain function, in addition having neuroprotective properties. It has soothing effects on anxiety, and while it differs significantly from Adderall, it can help to serve similar purposes.

It’s beneficial in the areas of social anxiety, information processing, and learning.

Instead of being toxic to the brain, as is the case with Adderall, Noopept encourages the growth, maintenance, and longevity of brain cells (NGF & BDNF). It’s also very inexpensive.

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Phenylpiracetam #

Racetams are popular among the nootropic community, especially Phenylpiracetam, said to be the one closest to Adderall in both its effects and structure.

It is a derivative of piracetam with an added phenyl group.

It was developed by the Russian Academy of Sciences and said to be up to thousands of times higher in potency than Piracetam, also producing noticeable stimulating effects.

Phenylpiracetam is widely and easily available to purchase online. It is one of, if not the most, potent compounds from the racetam family of nootropics and one of the more powerful, potent smart drugs available.

The chemical resemblance of Phenylpiracetam to Adderall is responsible for creating effects that, although somewhat different, can be compared with stimulants.

It is also known that Phenylpiracetam decreases anxiety and helps in the treatment of depression.

During his 200-day space travel, Aleksandr Serebrov took Phenylpiracetam and thought of its effect to be an “equalizer of the entire organism” and praised his ability to “exclude impulsiveness and irritability.”

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Aniracetam #

Originally intended to treat memory disorders, Aniracetam is currently one of the racetams that many people use for improving concentration and focus.

It has the function of stimulating specific (AMPA and Glutamate) receptors in the brain. The slight structural difference from other racetams makes aniracetam a fat-soluble compound that has different properties in the human body.

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Modafinil and Adrafinil

Modafinil is a prescription wakefulness enhancer.

It’s a smart drug that increases productivity and cognitive function – with much lesser potential side effects. It’s considered to be the short-term effects closest to Adderall.

Interestingly, Modafinil does not belong to the drug stimulant class, as its effects may lead you to believe. Modafinil is a wakefulness-enhancing agent and is different from Adderall mechanism of action.

Adderall increases dopamine and norepinephrine activity and causes histamine, serotonin, and epinephrine to be released. This leads to a similar feeling to the response to fight or flight, creating intense stimulation and excitement.

Modafinil inhibits GABA production and increases dopamine, norepinephrine, histamine, and orexin, though much more gentle than traditional stimulants like Adderall.

As a result, the effects are mild, with the peak effects lasting about 6 hours, while the entire experience is up to 12 hours, followed by an afterglow period.

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What’s Adrafinil?

Adrafinil is a Modafinil prodrug, meaning the body is metabolizing it through the liver into Modafinil.

This means that in terms of effects, they are almost the same.

Modafinil peaks around the 60-90 minute mark somewhere, whereas Adrafinil may take about 2 hours to take effect as it needs to be processed first by the liver.

It is reported that Adrafinil is about three times less potent than Modafinil in terms of dosage comparison.

A typical dose of Modafinil ranges from 100 mg to 200 mg, although for many people, lower or higher doses are just as effective.

Adrafinil dosage ranges anywhere from 300 mg to 600mg, with some community members saying they take doses of up to 1,200mg.

I personally have never taken more than 600mg neither would I recommend that.

Adderall has a real therapeutic value, but its long-term and short-term side effects cost too much. The diversity of natural and synthetic cognitive enhancers makes experimentation a wiser choice, whether you’re currently using or plan to use Adderall in the future.

In selecting the best alternative for Adderall, you have to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all choice that can work well for everyone.

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Adderall vs Modafinil #

Concerning the “battle” between Modafinil and Adderall, the winner is definitely Modafinil, for two reasons: first, Modafinil is as effective as Adderall. Some might even call Modafinil better for productivity and learning because of its non-euphoric nature, laser-like focus on one experience, and prolonged effects.

Another reason why Modafinil is the best Adderall alternative is that Modafinil has low addictive potential, fewer side effects, and a nearly non-existent crash. After prolonged use, Adderall causes changes in the brain, leading to addiction and damage that can take a long time to mend.

In fact, when it comes to Adderall, if you go past a certain threshold, you will experience difficulty in completing tasks. Adderall will also make you feel drained after the effects have been worn off, after a few hours after the last dose.

Usually follow cognitive dysphoria and mental fatigue, which is not exactly the best idea when it comes to productivity or long-term study.

Modafinil half-life (the time it takes half the substance to leave the body) is 15 hours and should be taken early in the day to avoid night-sleeping difficulty. Even after prolonged use, one or two days of tiredness would be experienced if one were to stop. It is back to normal after that. Nothing like Adderall’s symptoms of depression and withdrawal.

Modafinil, however, is also a prescription drug.

Related: 6 Best Natural Nootropic Supplements

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6 Best Natural Nootropic Supplements

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Whether you’ve just come across the term ‘Nootropics‘ and wondering what the hell it means, or you’ve been supplementing with them for a long time already, the following guide is insightful for both cases.

William Cole, a “functional medicine practitioner” (a term I haven’t heard until today but very intrigued by for sounding very promising) wrote as an introduction to compilation:

Brain and neurological problems have reached the highest numbers in human history. Anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, depression, ADD, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis are just some of the brain conditions affecting nearly everyone on planet Earth in some way. Why is this happening? What are we doing as a society that could have triggered such a massive epidemic—one that threatens the quality and quantity of countless lives? My job as a functional medicine practitioner is to get to the root cause of health problems, especially brain and neurological issues like the ones mentioned above. And although multifaceted and complex, one exciting tool we use to improve and support optimal brain function is nootropics.

And in that introduction is another exciting fact, is that in their practice of improving and supporting optimal brain function, in such an important field, is the use of nootropics.

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What Are Nootropics?

Although we already have a progressive Nootropics 101 page to answer that What Are Nootropics question, this is more focused on the list in hand.

So what are nootropics? I’m glad you asked! They’re fancy-sounding, but “nootropic” is just a term for a broad range of supplements, drugs, or other substances that may have the ability to enhance cognitive function.

Also referred to as smart drugs, the goal of nootropics is to improve memory and cognitive performance in otherwise healthy individuals—hence the nickname. They have also been praised for their neuroprotective benefits. In other words, they not only claim to boost brain power, but they also may protect your brain from deterioration over time.

Natural Nootropics versus Pharmaceutical Nootropics

Nootropics can be natural, synthetic, or prescription. In fact, the commonly prescribed Ritalin and Adderall are considered nootropics. There are also many synthetic options hitting the market now, but research surrounding their long-term effects is still developing. So while synthetic options like Modafinil, Adrafinil, and Piracetam can seem tempting for those struggling with severe brain fog or fatigue, in functional medicine we strive to uncover and treat the underlying cause and try natural solutions before synthetic ones.

Luckily, there is also a wide range of natural nootropics—many of which you might already be familiar with—that have been used in alternative medicine for years.

So while medications and synthetic drugs offer a quicker reaction time, they also have more intense side effects and require a prescription.

Nootropic Supplements, Drinks, Ingredients

If you’re just looking to dip your toes into the world of nootropics and boost brain performance, including natural nootropics in your wellness routine is the way to go.

These can be easily accessed, and you’d be surprised by how many you are probably already familiar with.

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Best Natural Nootropics List

1. Caffeine

Everyone’s favorite, caffeine is the superstar nootropic. Found in coffee, green tea, and chocolate, chances are you’ve been using this for your morning boost for years. You can also find caffeine supplements if you aren’t a fan of any of the usual vehicles. Caffeine helps you feel more alert and wakes you up by blocking your brain’s adenosine receptors.

2. L-Theanine

If caffeine alone just isn’t cutting it, add in this amino acid to boost the benefits of both of these nootropics. L-theanine and caffeine are both naturally occurring in tea, especially green tea, making this beverage the better choice over coffee if you are wanting the boost of both, sazwq\q

L-theanine is a natural amino acid, often called the “natural xanax”. It almost only exists in green tea leaves. It works brilliantly in unwinding and relaxing the body and brain without causing drowsiness, while reducing stress and increasing cognitive function. Due to not causing drowsiness, it is the perfect choice to combine with stimulants of any sort to take the edge off.

3. Creatine

This amino acid is used by your body to make protein and promote muscle growth, making it a popular supplement among athletes. It is also considered great fuel for your brain because it binds with phosphate in your brain to give energy to your brain’s cells for increased short-term memory.

4. Ginkgo biloba

You can’t expect me to get through a list of herbs without mentioning at least one adaptogen. The leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree have been shown to be a powerful brain booster. Not only has this been shown to improve memory, but it can also alleviate stress by decreasing your stress hormone, cortisol.

5. Panax ginseng

This other superstar adaptogen works to improve memory by reducing oxidative stress to promote brain-protecting nitric oxide. Research has further shown this adaptogens brain-boosting power with its ability to prevent age-related memory loss and improve long-term memory.

6. Curcumin

You may have 99 problems, but curcumin has probably already solved 98 of them—and you can add improved cognitive performance to that list. This compound in turmeric has been shown to improve working memory with consistent long-term supplementation. Curcumin can also increase BDNF, reduce oxidative stress, and inhibit inflammatory cytokines.

How To Use Nootropics?

The amazing thing about natural nootropics is that you can easily add them to your daily wellness routine. Most of these herbs and compounds can be found in supplement form from any natural food or vitamin store and even online. You can also find adaptogens and turmeric in powder form, which you can add to various smoothies, elixirs, or recipes.

While these natural smart drugs are considered generally safe, it’s still important to remember that the research surrounding them as nootropics is limited and still developing. Since everyone is different, depending on your health case, you may be more sensitive to certain nootropics, such as L-theanine or caffeine. Some people, for example, have specific gene mutations that make metabolizing caffeine more difficult. My advice is to start slow, listen to your body, adjust accordingly, and always tell your doctor about your supplement use.

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About the author:

Dr. Will Cole, leading functional-medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam at www.drwillcole.com and locally in Pittsburgh. He specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing health programs for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal dysfunctions, digestive disorders, and brain problems.Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional-medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the author of Ketotarian in which he melds the powerful benefits of the ketogenic and plant-based diets.

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