When I was in 9th grade, I lost my best friend.
No, he didn’t die, but he started to take Adderall to help him with ADHD. It completely changed who he was. Suddenly he wasn’t as happy anymore, he didn’t want to hang out or goof around, and he barely laughed. Worse, he barely ate any food so his growth was severely stunted.
Today, he’s back, but he has never been the same. Mood swings and bitter depression plague him and CAT scans still have not been able to definitively determine the cause. We are all convinced it is Adderall.
As great as Adderall can be for improving concentration, motivation, and mental energy, it also has a dark side. Millions of people in the United States are prescribed this medication from a young age (as young as 8) yet this drug is an amphetamine salt. While there is large psychoactive differences, Adderall is structurally similar to methamphetamine.
This is one of the main reasons Adderall is so popular amongst prescribed and non-prescribed students. Millions of college students, Wall Street traders, and professionals are using Adderall to get ahead, have a good time, and stimulate themselves in some way.
Finding the Alternatives
Just because Adderall is effective doesn’t mean it is healthy for you, especially in the long run. While it can be a useful tool to improve concentration and focus, it is easy to become addicted, moody, and dependent.
Here are some of the nootropic alternatives to Adderall that you can use for your own benefit. Keep in mind that there are several different types of improved concentration so many of these nootropics will have different (but perhaps just as effective) effects on your ability to focus.
Caffeine + L-Theanine
If you are reading this, you’ve probably already heard of the caffeine and L-Theanine combination. It is one of the most well-studied nootropics currently being sold on the market. Caffeine can stimulate higher focus, concentration and motivation while the L-Theanine negates the drawbacks (such as increased heart rate and blood pressure).
Most importantly, L-Theanine improves on the concentration aspects of caffeine while removing jitters and anxiety. Numerous studies show how useful this combination is over that of each individual ingredient alone. It can also improve memory (through BDNF) by 25%. We created a caffeine and L-Theanine combination that also has a special ingredient to make it more powerful.
Originally intended to treat memory disorders, aniracetam is currently one of the racetams that many people use for improving concentration and focus; aniracetam has the function of stimulating certain (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.
Even though research is lagging its brother piracetam, this compound is effective for improving neurological connections to improve concentration (as opposed to stimulating hormone secretion). As an alternative to Adderall, there is no strong dump of neurochemicals (dopamine), but instead a steady clarity.
Racetams are also a family of drugs that has a lot of research already. There have been decades of studies showing it has few side effects on neither animals nor humans. Like Adderall, aniracetam has mood-enhancing effects, but they are created in a sustainable way. Taking a dose of 750 mg twice per day is a good starting point to replace Adderall.
For the braver nootropics users, phenylpiracetam is a heavy hitter. There are relatively few studies about this particular analogue, but the entire family of racetams is highly prized for the lack of side effects or ill-health risks. This particular analogue is well known and used for stimulatory reasons…
…and it is a banned substance in the Olympics.
Of course, the Olympic committee is strict, but you know this is going to be a potent stimulant if a nootropic for brain enhancement is banned for high performance athletes. There are several stories on internet boards and forums describing how people use phenylpiracetam as a pre-workout before going to the gym.
One Redditor reported: “At the peak of it’s effects (about an hour in) I feel intense focus, not especially jittery, unless stacked with something else, just pure attention, and a complete abolishment of any lethargy I would have been feeling previously.”
Many people compare it to Modafinil, which is one of the most potent wakefulness enhancers recommended today.
Discovered by a member of the Longecity community, CILTEP stands for chemically-induced long-term potentiality. In short, it combines forskolin and artichoke extract with well-received results.
Both Dave Asprey and Tim Ferriss have recommended CILTEP. Based on a 2004 study, the creator tested a theory, the community followed, and the results spoke for themselves. This is one of the few nootropic combinations that has been derived through the grassroots community as opposed to a for-profit company with a conflict of interest.
If you read our previous article about nootropics armed forces use you will probably remember rhodiola rosea. This herb has been used by Viking cultures hundreds of years ago. In some instances, they were used prior to battle as they raided the countryside of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Rhodiola is an interesting herb because higher doses can be used to promote anxiety-relief and calmness. Low doses of rhodiola can increase focus, concentration, and acts as a stimulant. It is particularly useful if you are trying to cycle off of caffeine or want to avoid caffeine. In fact, Sol Orwell, founder of Examine.com has said “When cycling off of something like caffeine, I found Rhodiola Rosea made it a lot easier for the body.”
This adaptogen can be used daily (with around 50 mg) to avoid fatigue or stress. It can also be used in times of acute stress to reduce those feelings. While rhodiola alone probably will not be comparable to Adderall, it can still be part of a natural and herbal stack to prevent you from becoming dependent on this amphetamine.
If you have ever had a vitamin B12 supplement, you may have experienced how powerful and stimulating nutrients can be. Similar to B12, thiamine (vitamin B1) can vastly improve cognitive abilities, concentration, and memory. Japanese soldiers deficient in thiamine prompted scientists to find alternatives. In the 1960’s, sulbutiamine was discovered, which is the most bioavailable form of thiamine.
A lot of the data on sulbutiamine in studies is in Japanese or other languages, but suffice it to say, this synthetic substance is highly effective for improving focus and concentration. It also improves memory around 10.1% according to some studies. For those who lack a very healthy diet, it can be as effective as Adderall for boosting mood and concentration.
While every school child and adult loves chocolate, few get enough to see real stimulating benefits. Cacao is filled with a stimulant called theobromine, which acts similarly to caffeine without the crash. More importantly, it is filled with many nutrients, like iron and magnesium, that most people are lacking in their diet. It isn’t unheard of for people to use cacao and feel euphoric because their body is lacking in essential nutrients.
Facing Off with Adderall
All of these 7 ingredients are great, but let’s be real… Adderall is an amphetamine and it’s hard to compete with that.
Here is a place to begin when creating a stack that might compare with Adderall. Try with small doses of each and then build upon that depending on your size and needs.
- 80 mg Caffeine
- 160 mg L-Theanine
- 80 mg Phenylpiracetam
- 250 mg Rhodiola rosea (3% rosavins)
- 750 mg Aniracetam
- Eat 2-3 eggs per day
That should help you compare with Adderall. If you feel a headache, it might be time to increase choline consumption with either CDP or alpha GPC choline. Also, keep in mind that phenylpiracetam can build a tolerance (as can caffeine).
If you take this stack as-needed, it will help give you most of the benefits of Adderall without the drawbacks.