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Adderall Alternatives — Natural Options?

Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by Carol Gillette

the diagnosisAlternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Adderall alternatives are becoming more popular. Certainly, clinical research suggests drug-free Adderall alternatives may be safer in the long run. Nevertheless, immediate-release (1996) and extended-release (2001) versions of Adderall have monopolized treatment choices for both children and adults for a very long time to treat symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy.

But at Alternative to Meds Center, we observe that ADHD drugs like Adderall and similar are being more closely scrutinized by the medical community as a whole. And, that alternatives to pharmaceutical treatment are more available than ever before. We welcome this change and would be happy to see this accelerate. In the meantime, we continue to provide drug-free alternatives to Adderall that may provide equal or greater efficacy, without the liabilities associated with the prolonged use of stimulants.

Do Your Symptoms Require Adderall?
adhd medication alternatives

For nearly 20 years now, Alternative to Meds Center has provided holistic, science-based options for treatment for those who would prefer natural remedies over medication. For persons who want to reduce their reliance on medication, the answers are also here. Our published evidence shows remarkable outcomes in the Adderall alternatives programs offered to our clients, over many years. And, many of our staff have found similar relief and are passionate about delivering the same life-changing therapies to others.
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About Adderall®

Adderall is a compound of 4 stimulant drugs, plus binders and other non-medicinal substances. By name, these stimulant drugs are, according to the drug’s label:

  • dextroamphetamine saccharate
  • amphetamine aspartate
  • dextroamphetamine sulfate
  • amphetamine sulfate.

As a result, amphetamines activate surges of dopamine and norepinephrine (a form of adrenaline) in the CNS and brain. Therefore, the effects are pleasurable, stimulating, and addictive over prolonged use.

Amphetamine-based drugs like Adderall are classed as Schedule II for their high risk of abuse and dependence. This class of drug can cause dangerous physical and psychological adverse effects.1,2

Adderall Alternatives Provide Safer Strategies in Practical Ways

In summary, here are some well-documented strategies that don’t require drugging that can be implemented relatively easily. In many cases, these alternatives to Adderall have enabled an entire reversal of chronic conditions like daytime sleepiness, energy roller coasters, lack of focus, exhaustion, nervous jitters, mental confusion, impulsivity, and other symptoms, without prescription drugs.

Alternatives to Adderall may include:
  • Adderall alternativesImprove diet and nutrition.
  • Improve gut health.
  • Improve sleep.
  • Test for and correct vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • Cleanse.
  • Counseling, lifestyle changes.
  • Avoid stimulants, and recreational drugs/alcohol.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Exercise.

What Can You Do for Relief?

Improve the diet. Avoid sugar and caffeine over-consumption, and high-carb meals and snacks to avoid blood sugar crashes, jitters, mental fog, wild energy spikes, and bouts of exhaustion. In particular, a diet consisting of adequate fresh leafy greens and other vegetables and fruits provide high-level neuro-supportive nutrients. And, adequate good quality protein over the day is fundamental for robust mental and physical health and for keeping blood sugar levels at an even keel.11,12

  • About coffee and caffeine consumption:  While minimal coffee intake can be mildly therapeutic for some, overconsumption can have disastrous effects such as increased anxiety, low mood, panic attacks, and even psychosis in non-psychotic persons. Moderation is the key.9,10
  • A Note on Blood Sugar and Hypoglycemia:  Hypoglycemia symptoms are similar to many psychiatric symptoms. Keeping blood sugar levels from spiking and crashing after high sugar consumption is a good daily practice for natural mental health.11

What About the Microbiome?

Improve gut health. The bulk of vital neurotransmitters and other essentials for human health are produced in the gut and delivered from there into the bloodstream. Studies show that improving gut health has a positive impact on neurological dysfunction, including ADHD symptoms. Adderall alternatives here include daily consumption of fermented foods, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and other sources that can give the gut the fuel it needs for these important functions and keep your neurotransmitters and hormones functioning at normal levels.8,13

How Important is Quality Sleep?

Quality sleep is essential to mental and physical health. Insomnia and daytime sleepiness are common in persons who suffer from ADHD symptoms. Make it routine to keep electronics and blue light out of the sleeping area. Keep the room you sleep in well-ventilated. Use clean non-toxic bed linens, a comfortable pillow and mattress, and black-out curtains or a comfortable light-blocking eye mask to promote natural melatonin production. Adequate sleep may not solve every problem but it goes a long way to ensuring good overall health and cognitive alertness.

  • Herbal and natural remedies such as teas and supplements can help, such as chamomile, passionflower extract, lavender, melatonin, and others that you can easily find in local shops.7,26

Lab Testing

Lab testing for vitamin and mineral deficiencies and allergies. Certain vitamin deficiencies as well as mineral deficits are associated with ADHD. Specifically, studies have demonstrated deficiencies in zinc, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin D were discovered in patients with ADHD symptoms. Micro-nutrient treatments have produced improvements in emotional regulation and aggression in clinical studies.27

Importantly, lab testing can help pinpoint exactly what your body needs, and even discover toxic accumulations you didn’t know were there. These should be cleansed out of your body. Alternatives to Adderall also include testing for food or other allergies.

  • Allergies can play symptomatic havoc with day-to-day life, but once you know about them you can take steps to avoid further exposure.
  • Thyroid issues are sometimes overlooked as potential mimics of psychiatric conditions, and testing can isolate thyroid-related issues that need addressing.14,16,17

Other Effective Strategies

Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse. Fortunately, toxic exposures that a lab test finds should be a bright signpost that tells you it’s time to clean that body. Toxicity is often overlooked in psychiatric diagnoses, as it is associated with many “mental health” symptoms that are actually reactions to toxins we’ve been exposed to, which is not uncommon in modern day-to-day life.18

Notes on Living With Purpose

Is there anything we treasure more than living with purpose? Time passes so quickly it seems, and our circumstances can change and evolve. Perhaps this presents an opportunity to re-assess one’s personal values and begin to restructure one’s life around meaningful goals. Perhaps one is hampered by skill sets that are missing or need improving. There may be a need or desire to find avenues for spiritual growth and guidance. There are many ways to adjust one’s focus in life so that goals become clearer, and actions become more organized and deliberate. In contrast, the drug industry thrives on the idea of letting a drug do all the work. Nonetheless, you can look for strategies that you feel would result in a more satisfying and healthy outcome.

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes

Thankfully, there are many “TLC” options that can be powerful in positive ways. Many find benefits from psychotherapy. What’s more, be proactive in designing your lifestyle. Do what you can to avoid stressors in the environment including, toxic relationships. Consider new avenues to avoid self-sabotage or self-limiting habits. After all, if one feels stuck in a job that doesn’t satisfy one’s needs adequately, one is free to consider opportunities that could be of greater personal interest and value. Make friends with people you genuinely enjoy being around. So, take an enjoyable exercise class, or a course on improving social and communication skills, or take up a hobby you are keenly interested in.

With these things in mind, also take time to relax, rejuvenate, and rest. While it’s true that marital or family conflicts can be heart-wrenching, with guidance these may be able to see resolution. Seek help to guide you and yours to more harmonious, supportive interchanges. Counseling like CBT and other sources of guidance can greatly support you as you restructure your lifestyle in every way possible that is meaningful to the unique person that you are.19

Be Kind to Your Neurochemistry

Limit or cut out stimulants, alcohol, marijuana, and other recreational drug use. Unfortunately, using alcohol or other recreational drugs to “relax” often has a rebound or boomerang effect, magnifying instead of relieving stress and irritation.20

Often Overlooked Strategies

Traditional Chinese Medicine. Since individual therapies are beneficial, combining multiple strategies can be even better. Consider acupuncture, meditation, Tai Chi, QiGong, breath therapy, and other learned relaxation techniques. Above all, consider how these actions can help put you back in control of your energy, mindfulness, and personal confidence. Remember, these techniques may help you find clarity and grace in a sometimes crazy and graceless world.21,22

Exercise is a practical and potent tool that can improve many facets of human health, both physical and psychological. Clinical studies have clearly established that aerobic exercise like walking, running, or bicycling, alleviates symptoms of ADHD almost immediately! Exercise promotes neurogenesis (growth of new neurons) which improves mood, and cognitive ability, and facilitates learning. Often overlooked, there are few things in life that are so easily accessible, and affordable, yet with so many benefits as exercise.23,25

Why Consider Alternatives to Adderall?

Of note, the drug label is a good source of information about the risks associated with Adderall. The following summary is taken from the drug’s label and the DEA, and other sources as cited. Below are some reasons to consider other treatment options.

  • risks associated with adderallAdderall is considered dangerous by the DEA — posing a high risk for abuse and dependence.
  • Serous adverse effects include sudden death, cardiac arrest, and stroke.
  • The emergence of new symptoms may occur, such as aggression, mania, hallucinations, and other psychotic symptoms.
  • A single dose of amphetamines produced stimulant-induced psychosis in 50-70% of patients with prior psychosis or other symptoms of schizophrenia.5
  • No one truly understands the mode of therapeutic action.
  • According to the FDA, no test has been devised for a diagnosis of the syndrome known as ADHD. Thus, the diagnosis has caused considerable controversy in the medical world.
  • Researchers are calling for more studies on the effects of long-term use of Adderall.

Other Concerns of Note

  • Suppression of growth over time.6
  • Seizures, whether or not a history of seizures was present before taking Adderall.
  • Risk of serotonin syndrome, a life-threatening adverse drug-induced effect.
  • Visual disturbances such as blurring vision
  • Risk of circulatory problems leading to numbness or pain, and fingers turning from pale, to blue, or turning red.
  • Unexplained wounds on the fingers or toes.
  • There are no well-controlled studies on the effects of Adderall on pregnant women.
  • Babies born to mothers taking Adderall may present with congenital heart malformations, discontinuation syndrome, premature birth, and low birth weight.3
  • The frequency of emergency visits in the age 55+ population associated with stimulant drugs such as Adderall increased 700% from 1995 to 2002.4

While not everyone experiences life-threatening symptoms from Adderall, there is yet enough clinical evidence to give one pause. Therefore, it may benefit a person to consider other, safer strategies to address problematic symptoms. And, it may help to understand more about the diagnosis of adult ADHD.

Criteria for Diagnosis of ADHD in Adults?

Perhaps surprisingly, the “criteria” for a diagnosis of ADHD is the same for kids as for adults — an adult only has to present with 5 of these points. But a child needs 6 or more for a “valid” diagnosis. Currently, the DSM-5© lists 18 or more descriptors that you can explore if you are interested.15 However, one of these is particularly interesting and deserves a bit of a closer look.

This one is key:
  • “Symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, and are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g., mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, personality disorder, substance intoxication, or withdrawal).” (taken from DSM-5©)

adhd diagnosisA closer look may reveal a glaring neglect of any other avenue of treatment, or option for the relief of symptoms. Notably, a rather narrow set of criteria can peg a person with a diagnosis. And, a diagnosis, and drug treatment for it, may not be at all what was needed.

Our modern world is RICH with psycho-social stressors, information overload, toxic exposures, poor diet, lifestyle, financial, and educational challenges. Compounding these factors, we experience a high velocity of change and unpredictability in day-to-day life. Definitly, it can be hard to keep on top! We can take the opportunity to delve deeper into underlying factors, and we can improve them in logical, practical ways. Truly, to just short-circuit any truly authentic assessment by prescribing a Schedule II drug amounts to a gigantic missed opportunity.

What about Transitioning Off Adderall?

Alternative to Meds Center has helped thousands of clients to benefit from drug-free treatment options in a very comfortable, nurturing, inpatient setting. What’s more, we’ve been doing this work for nearly two decades now.

As a reminder, don’t stop taking prescription medications abruptly. A slow, gradual process is best. With this in mind, we invite you to find out more about the techniques and methods that Alternative to Meds Center uses during and after holistic detox at the center.

Adderall Generic, Brand, and Slang Names

Adderall is the brand name for the generic components, which consist of four types of amphetamines in Adderall.1

Certainly, Adderall has developed a significant street presence.24 Outside the doctor’s office, people may call Adderall by a number of slang terms, like the following:

  • Study Buddies
  • Addy
  • Christmas Trees
  • Lid Poppers
  • Smart Pills
  • Smarties
  • Study Skittles
  • Truck Drivers
  • Abby
  • Co-Pilots

The Alternative to Meds Center Treatment Protocols

inpatient adderall transitioning sedona drug rehabThe team at the center will design a program made for you to simplify and ease going from drug-dependent to drug-free. The center provides lab testing, holistic detox, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, neurotoxin removal, cleansing the body, counseling options, orthomolecular treatment, and environmental medicine. Additionally, the many licensed practitioners at the center deliver a wide range of comfort therapies including Equine assisted therapy, art therapy, IV treatments, therapeutic massage, and much more.

Peer support programs are highly popular, and of note, the area in which the facility is located is awesome for outdoor hikes, biking, and breathtakingly beautiful photo opportunities, and the weather is traditionally pleasant all year round.

Finally, we invite you to contact us for any other information you would like to have, such as insurance coverage, costs and length of programs, and what to bring when you come. We welcome your call and are here to help. We have over 50 professionals on our staff, many of whom have recovered in similar ways using proven and safe alternatives to Adderall for natural mental health, and are here to assist you in your journey to better overall health.


1. FDA drug label Adderall CH (Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Aspartate, Dextromamphetamine Sulfate and Amphetamine Sulfate Tablets) [published online as revised Jan 2017] [cited 2023 April 24)

2. DEA Drug Scheduling [cited 2023 April 24)

3. Huybrechts KF, Bröms G, Christensen LB, Einarsdóttir K, Engeland A, Furu K, Gissler M, Hernandez-Diaz S, Karlsson P, Karlstad Ø, Kieler H, Lahesmaa-Korpinen AM, Mogun H, Nørgaard M, Reutfors J, Sørensen HT, Zoega H, Bateman BT. Association Between Methylphenidate and Amphetamine Use in Pregnancy and Risk of Congenital Malformations: A Cohort Study From the International Pregnancy Safety Study Consortium. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Feb 1;75(2):167-175. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3644. PMID: 29238795; PMCID: PMC5838573. [cited 2023 April 24)

4. Berman SM, Kuczenski R, McCracken JT, London ED. Potential adverse effects of amphetamine treatment on brain and behavior: a review. Mol Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;14(2):123-42. doi: 10.1038/mp.2008.90. Epub 2008 Aug 12. Erratum in: Mol Psychiatry. 2010 Nov;15(11):1121. PMID: 18698321; PMCID: PMC2670101. [cited 2023 April 24)

5. Curran C, Byrappa N, McBride A. Stimulant psychosis: systematic review. Br J Psychiatry. 2004 Sep;185:196-204. doi: 10.1192/bjp.185.3.196. PMID: 15339823. [cited 2023 April 24)

6. Miller BS, Aydin F, Lundgren F, Lindberg A, Geffner ME. Stimulant use and its impact on growth in children receiving growth hormone therapy: an analysis of the KIGS International Growth Database. Horm Res Paediatr. 2014;82(1):31-7. doi: 10.1159/000360005. Epub 2014 Jun 11. PMID: 24924157. [cited 2023 April 24]

7. Pacheco D, medically reviewed by Dimitriu A, ADHD and Sleep Problems: How are they related? [2023 Jan 17] [cited 2023 April 24]

8. Kalenik A, Kardaś K, Rahnama A, Sirojć K, Wolańczyk T. Gut microbiota and probiotic therapy in ADHD: A review of current knowledge. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2021 Aug 30;110:110277. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2021.110277. Epub 2021 Feb 6. PMID: 33561522. [cited 2023 April 24]

9. Lara DR. Caffeine, mental health, and psychiatric disorders. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S239-48. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-1378. PMID: 20164571. [cited 2023 April 24]

10. Broderick P, Benjamin AB. Caffeine and psychiatric symptoms: a review. J Okla State Med Assoc. 2004 Dec;97(12):538-42. PMID: 15732884. [cited 2023 April 24]

11. Aucoin M, Bhardwaj S. Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Hypoglycemia Symptoms Improved with Diet Modification. Case Rep Psychiatry. 2016;2016:7165425. doi: 10.1155/2016/7165425. Epub 2016 Jul 14. PMID: 27493821; PMCID: PMC4963565.[cited 2023 April 24]

12. Millichap JG, Yee MM. The diet factor in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics. 2012 Feb;129(2):330-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2199. Epub 2012 Jan 9. PMID: 22232312.[cited 2023 April 24]

13. Gkougka D, Mitropoulos K, Tzanakaki G, Panagouli E, Psaltopoulou T, Thomaidis L, Tsolia M, Sergentanis TN, Tsitsika A. Gut microbiome and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review. Pediatr Res. 2022 Dec;92(6):1507-1519. doi: 10.1038/s41390-022-02027-6. Epub 2022 Mar 30. PMID: 35354932. [cited 2023 April 24]

14. Bala KA, Doğan M, Kaba S, Mutluer T, Aslan O, Doğan SZ. Hormone disorder and vitamin deficiency in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Sep 1;29(9):1077-82. doi: 10.1515/jpem-2015-0473. PMID: 27544717. [cited 2023 April 24]

15. Takeda Pharmaceuticals Information Sheet ADHD DSM-5© [published online] [cited 2023 April 24]

16. Rucklidge JJ, Eggleston MJF, Johnstone JM, Darling K, Frampton CM. Vitamin-mineral treatment improves aggression and emotional regulation in children with ADHD: a fully blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2018 Mar;59(3):232-246. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12817. Epub 2017 Oct 2. PMID: 28967099; PMCID: PMC7779340.[cited 2023 April 24]

17. McKee J, Brahm N. Medical mimics: Differential diagnostic considerations for psychiatric symptoms. Ment Health Clin. 2016 Nov 3;6(6):289-296. doi: 10.9740/mhc.2016.11.289. PMID: 29955484; PMCID: PMC6007536. [cited 2023 April 24]

18. Genuis SJ. Toxic causes of mental illness are overlooked. Neurotoxicology. 2008 Nov;29(6):1147-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Jun 24. PMID: 18621076. [cited 2023 April 24]

19. Walsh R. Lifestyle and mental health. Am Psychol. 2011 Oct;66(7):579-92. doi: 10.1037/a0021769. PMID: 21244124. [cited 2023 April 24]

20. Spera V, Pallucchini A, Carli M, Maiello M, Maremmani AGI, Perugi G, Maremmani I. Does Cannabis, Cocaine and Alcohol Use Impact Differently on Adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Clinical Picture? J Clin Med. 2021 Apr 2;10(7):1481. doi: 10.3390/jcm10071481. PMID: 33918432; PMCID: PMC8038274. [cited 2023 April 24]

21. Dong FH. [Precise application of Traditional Chinese Medicine in minimally-invasive techniques]. Zhongguo Gu Shang. 2018 Jun 25;31(6):493-496. Chinese. doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1[cited 2023 April 24]

22. Zhang YP, Hu RX, Han M, Lai BY, Liang SB, Chen BJ, Robinson N, Chen K, Liu JP. Evidence Base of Clinical Studies on Qi Gong: A Bibliometric Analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2020 May;50:102392. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102392. Epub 2020 Apr 6. PMID: 32444061. [cited 2023 April 24]

23. Mehren A, Reichert M, Coghill D, Müller HHO, Braun N, Philipsen A. Physical exercise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – evidence and implications for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Borderline Personal Disord Emot Dysregul. 2020 Jan 6;7:1. doi: 10.1186/s40479-019-0115-2. PMID: 31921425; PMCID: PMC6945516.003-0034.2018.06.001. PMID: 29945400. [cited 2023 April 24]

24. DEA DIR-022-18, Slang Terms and Code Words – A Reference for Law Enforcement Personnel [published July 2018] [cited 2023 April 24]

25. van Praag H. Neurogenesis and exercise: past and future directions. Neuromolecular Med. 2008;10(2):128-40. doi: 10.1007/s12017-008-8028-z. Epub 2008 Feb 20. PMID: 18286389. [cited 2023 April 24]

26. Fatemeh G, Sajjad M, Niloufar R, Neda S, Leila S, Khadijeh M. Effect of melatonin supplementation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Neurol. 2022 Jan;269(1):205-216. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10381-w. Epub 2021 Jan 8. PMID: 33417003.[cited 2023 April 24]

27. Villagomez, A., & Ramtekkar, U. (2014). Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Zinc Deficiencies in Children Presenting with Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Children (Basel, Switzerland)1(3), 261–279. [cited 2023 April 24]

Originally Published January 27, 2023 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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