Many people struggle with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but do not like taking a drug for the condition. The most commonly prescribed medication to treat symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is Adderall or “d-amphetamine.” This medication speeds up activity in the brain and helps people with attention problems to concentrate. The reason most people take this medication is because it has been studied for years, is one of the safest psychiatric medications, and is the most effective option for managing symptoms.
However, not everyone likes to take drugs to treat a condition like ADHD when there are natural alternatives that can be pursued. Some people don’t like forking over money for drugs and others don’t like the fact that they are conditioning themselves to become functionally dependent on a medication for symptom relief. For these reasons, some people want to know the best natural alternatives to Adderall for ADHD.
Adderall Alternatives: Natural Remedies for ADHD
Keep in mind that natural alternatives may not be as effective as a drug like “Adderall,” but they can still help manage symptoms. If you take the time to make some lifestyle changes and consciously work on your condition, it is possible to be managed successfully without a psychostimulant medication. Even for severe cases of ADHD, if you consciously work on your condition and find out which natural options work for you, the condition can be successfully managed – arguably better than whilst on medication.
1. Transcendental Meditation
Studies were conducted using Transcendental Meditation (TM) and after 3 months of meditation, symptoms of ADHD were significantly reduced. Participants showed significant reductions in stress, anxiety, and hyperactivity symptoms. It makes sense that meditation would help with ADD and ADHD simply because certain types of meditation practices actually increase activity in parts of the brain involved in focus, learning and memory. With consistent practice, a meditation practice could really reduce your symptoms.
2. Aerobic Exercise
Since exercise has been found to boost brain power in a number of different ways, it is no wonder that exercising can help minimize symptoms of hyperactivity and inattentiveness. People with ADHD get “hyperactive” as a result of having excess energy. In order to let out the energy, it is recommended to get involved in a consistent aerobic exercise program. For more information, read about the psychological benefits of exercise.
3. Omega-3/Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Individuals supplemented with n-3 PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) experienced significant reductions in ADHD symptoms. These need to be taken daily for a few months because the effect may not be immediate. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study individuals achieved and maintained symptom control. Omega-3/Omega-6 fatty acids can be obtained from things like Fish Oil, Krill Oil, and various types of fish.
There is various controversy surrounding the effectiveness of these supplements, but many have found that they work wonders. The key with these is consistency over the period of 90 days and then re-evaluate symptoms. If they work, great. If not, save your money.
Although there isn’t any scientific research behind the usage of caffeine for ADHD symptoms, some people find that it helps. Obviously this isn’t going to work as well as a psychostimulant for managing symptoms, but if you are heart-set on going medication-free for awhile, using caffeine for some extra mental energy could be helpful. Research has been done on animal models with ADHD and caffeine was found to help improve spatial learning tasks.
In the cases of many individuals with ADHD, they have slower than average brain wave activity. In order to speed brain waves up in the brain, scientists have figured out a way to hook electrodes up to the scalp and actually train people to speed up brain activity. This training attempts to uptrain slower brain waves such as theta and alpha into the beta brain waves range – primarily involved with focus.
The success rates associated with neurofeedback are up for debate. Additionally, this practice can be considered both expensive and time-consuming because in order to achieve results, the individual must attend many sessions. Most insurance companies do not cover this treatment. If you are interested, this could be something to consider.
6. Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract)
This substance has been used in children to help treat ADHD symptoms and has been found effective in numerous studies and reviews. Although not all researchers are convinced that this stuff works, some credible studies have shown that it can work. It may be something to try, especially if you are looking for a natural treatment option in children.
Pycnogenol is an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine and consists of phenolic acids, catechin, taxifolin, and procyanidins. In children this was supplemented at doses of 1 mg/kg/day – so if you are an adult, you may want to experiment with a higher dosage. Just one month’s worth of daily administration of this substance significantly reduced hyperactivity, and improved attention, and visual-motor coordination and concentration.
7. Monoamine Amino Acid Precursors
Monoamine amino acid precursors have been proven to be effective in cases with ADHD. They can help increase the amount of various neurotransmitters in the brain. If taken in the correct amounts under a controlled protocol, theorhetically it is possible to reduce attention-deficit symptoms while maintaining healthy brain functioning. All monoamines are derived from amino acids like tyrosine, tryptophan, and thyroid hormones. These are thought to play crucial roles in emotion, arousal, and cognitive function.
It should be noted that it is recommended to work with a professional if you are considering a formula with several (or all) of these substances to help treat your ADHD condition. Although many are available over-the-counter (OTC), they can still have a powerful effect on mental functioning and should not be improperly used.
8. Zinc (Supplementation)
Taking Zinc has been shown to be effective at reducing symptoms of ADHD. Supplementation of Zinc is especially helpful amongst individuals that have low zinc. If you already have low levels of zinc in your body, this could be a reason for experiencing ADHD symptoms in the first place.
However, even if you don’t have lower-than-average levels, supplementation of this substance has been studied and seems to be a legitimate supplement to try. Obviously this is not going to work for everyone, but it may work like magic in people that are unaware that they have low zinc levels.
9. Magnesium + Vitamin-B6 Supplementation
The supplementation of Mg-B6 has been studied in a group of 40 children with classic ADHD. It was found that supplementation of Vitamin-B6 and Magnesium significantly reduced the classic symptoms of ADHD after 2 months of treatment. This may be an effective treatment option for people with low levels of these vitamins.
It was noted that when treatment with Mg-B6 was stopped, the participants experienced a relapse in symptoms of ADHD. It should be known that if you have low levels of magnesium, this could be the root cause of your symptoms. However, even if you are not deficient in these vitamins, supplementation may prove to be therapeutic after a couple of months.
10. Lifestyle changes
Although lifestyle changes can be difficult to make, if you have a condition like ADHD, you may need to shape up the way you are living in order to successfully manage your symptoms. Do you need to try all of the natural treatments on this list? Certainly not. It’s all about finding out what works for you and what doesn’t.
If you don’t want to take Adderall or any other psychostimulant medication to manage your symptoms, you can find something else that will work. It may not be easy, but you can figure out a lifestyle that works well to either fit your symptoms, reduce them, and/or both.