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Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Vyvanse® alternatives are available, but you may not know about them. Your prescriber may not either. Find out more about Vyvanse and why non-pharmaceutical Vyvanse alternatives may be a better choice for you, especially if you are seeing troubling signs as discussed below.

Do Your Symptoms Require Vyvanse?

holistic vyvanse alternatives

Alternative to Meds Center has been a leader in the field of alternatives to prescription drugs for about 17 years now. Our published evidence regarding our clients’ tremendous successes is available for public review. Discovering and effectively handling the root causes of unwanted symptoms is the key to the workability of our programs. Our aim is to provide actual, sustainable improvements in mental health and well-being through natural, science-based treatments.

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What Is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse is a “prodrug.” A prodrug is a non-active molecule or compound that becomes activated after being introduced into the body. In the case of Vyvanse, it becomes converted into amphetamine by way of interactions with enzymes and other chemical catalysts in the body.30

Though classed as a Schedule II drug, along with other dangerous and addictive drugs like fentanyl, methamphetamines, and cocaine, Vyvanse is FDA-approved for the treatment of ADHD and BED, or binge eating disorders, in children and adults. The patent on Vyvanse is scheduled to expire in 2023 and will likely become available under other brand names or generic versions.

Amphetamines are dangerously addictive stimulants, which is why there is a “black box” warning on Vyvanse’s label for the high risk of abuse and dependence. Not only are stimulants dangerous in these ways, but stimulants can also be life-threatening.

Stimulant Use Disorder

Statistics for stimulant use disorder were under-reported during the recent pandemic, but data reported by the US Dept of Health are disturbing nonetheless.

In 2018, over 500,000 children and adults had a diagnosis of stimulant use disorder. 2

About Vyvanse Alternatives for ADHD and Eating Disorders

There is no debate about whether stimulants can make a person feel good. So good, in fact, that all ADHD drugs including Vyvanse are classed as dangerously addictive drugs. The subjects of ADHD and eating disorders, both in their diagnosis and treatment, however, are subject to considerable debate.

Is it possible that a practical non-pharmaceutical-based treatment approach could be superior? Here are some alternative approaches to consider.

Alternatives to Vyvanse can include:
  • Correct the diet.
  • Improve gut health.
  • Improve sleep.
  • Exercise.
  • Natural supplements and herbal remedies.
  • Drug-free therapeutics.

Correct the diet:  According to a review in the Nutrition Journal, which analyzed multiple case studies, ADHD symptoms and a person’s diet are closely related. Researchers found that In non-healthy diets, ADHD symptoms are positively correlated, (significantly more frequent), and in those with healthy diets, ADHD symptoms were negatively correlated, (significantly less frequent). Another research project published in the 2012 Pediatrics Journal found much evidence to support changing dietary habits that plague the “Western” diet, to a diet that restricts refined carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fats, and also avoids chemical preservatives and flavor enhancers in processed foods. Research published in the 2019 Journal of Clinical Nutrition ESPN calls a diet that features adequate omega-3 oils, fiber, and folate, as found in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and other high-quality, clean protein from fish and other chemical-free sources, the “ADHD-free diet.”

In treating food addictions, research published in the 2018 Nutrients Journal found that a diet that restricts sweeteners and refined ingredients is a salient approach to treatment, along with CBT and other psychological interventions.3-7

Pertinent to binge eating disorders, stimulants are known to dampen appetite, which is perhaps why they found a place in treatment. However, complex conditions such as food addiction and binge eating disorders may require a more nuanced approach, including correcting the root causes of underlying addictive biochemistry, and not simply suppressing the appetite. Research indicates that the root causes of addictive biochemistry can be addressed through nutrition, and other non-drug-based means, rather than pharmaceuticals designed to dampen the otherwise unchecked appetite and emotions. A study published in the 2018 Journal of Human Psychopharmacology found that while sufferers of BED lost weight during the placebo-controlled trial on Vyvanse, the frequency of binging behavior did not change. Perhaps that is the clearest indication of all that there were root causes left unresolved.

Improve gut health:  &A healthy gut microbiome is essential for many aspects of physical and mental health. After all, a large percentage of our hormones and neurotransmitters are produced there for distribution to the rest of the body. This is of high interest to anyone suffering from the symptoms of ADHD or eating disorders. Evidence found for the role of microbiome health and developing symptoms of ADHD was described as “staggering” according to research published in the Nutrients Journal in 2019.8

According to the 2022 Journal of Eating Disorders, the gut microbiome interacts with hunger hormones and is implicated in eating disorders. Support for microbiome health can come from sound nutrition, omega-3s, as well as supplemental probiotics, and daily intake of fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other rich sources of probiotics.9

Improve sleep:   There is a clear connection between sleep disturbances and eating disorders, according to research published in 2016 in the Journal of Current Psychiatric Reports. And for ADHD sufferers, clinical research as far back as the 2015 Journal of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders reports a significant relationship between sleep deficits and ADHD. Anything you can do to improve the quality of sleep is a move in the right direction, according to the sleep hygiene experts at the Sleep Institute and authors Markwald et al.10,11

Here are some science-backed suggestions to consider in order to improve sleep:
  • natural alternatives to improve sleepVitamin D
  • Melatonin
  • Amino acids
  • Regular exercise, light to moderate to vigorous
  • CBT counseling
  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule to regulate circadian rhythm
  • Learn relaxation and stress-reduction practices
  • Comfortable, non-toxic mattress, pillows, sheets
  • Keep the bedroom quiet, and well-ventilated at a comfortable, cool temperature
  • Turn off electronics and avoid bright lights for at least 30 min. before retiring
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods
  • Healthy diet — plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, quality protein, avoid refined carbs, processed, chemical-laden foods, artificial sweeteners, avoid heavy meals close to bedtime
  • Restrict fluid intake before sleep

Exercise:  Exercise is one of the most beneficial and accessible actions to improve all aspects of mental and physical health, including eating disorders and ADHD symptoms. Aerobic and resistance exercises are recommended. Forest bathing is another pleasant way to exercise with many benefits, including the reduction of cortisol, according to the International Journal of Biometeorology. International studies also show Martial Arts are particularly good for reducing ADHD symptoms.12-16

Natural supplements and herbal remedies:   Clinical evidence published in the World Journal of Psychiatry shows a wide range of supplements that support microbiome health, sleep, energy, cognitive sharpness, and other aspects necessary for natural mental health, including folate, omega-3s, and other poly-unsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, vitamin D, minerals such as zinc and magnesium, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), melatonin, antioxidants, prebiotics, probiotics, and a balance of all vitamins and minerals.17,18

Drug-free therapeutics:  Prescription drug treatment for symptoms in ADHD and eating disorders produce undesirable outcomes according to the FDA database of adverse event reports. These include such as obsessive thoughts, rumination, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, aggressive and hostile behaviors, depression, euphoria, and many others. To avoid these outcomes, non-pharmacological interventions may provide a pathway better suited to your overall health goals. Successful interventions for ADHD symptoms include CBT, time-management and organizational skills training, social skills training, and other helpful and practical interventions. Parental and teacher training is also recommended before prescribing ADHD drugs to children in some regions.19

Notes on Nonpharmacological Treatments for Disordered Eating

holistic counseling for eating disordersBinge eating disorders make up the majority of diagnosed disordered eating cases, and there is only one prescription drug that is currently FDA-approved for BED, and that is Vyvanse. For the treatment of binge-purge disordered eating, (bulimia nervosa) some antidepressants have been FDA-approved. Antidepressants can cause changes in appetite. For example, a suppressed appetite may result in a temporary loss of weight and a possible reduction of instances of disordered eating. But the opposite can also occur, where a disordered appetite may result in weight gain. The mechanisms of antidepressants on appetite and the frequency of disordered eating episodes are not fully understood and have not been clinically tested in long-term trials. The American Dietetic Association considers nutrition to be a first-line treatment in this arena.20,21,28

According to the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology Journal, the best nonpharmacologic treatments for bulimia nervosa include CBT (counseling tailored to the condition) and family counseling in cases involving adolescents. Stress is associated with disordered eating, and is suggested as a possible focus for treatment. Learning stress-reduction techniques, and relaxation therapies could net tangible results in treatment and recovery, even though medical understanding is far from complete.26,27

The current body of medical literature shows room for much more research in developing a better understanding of eating disorders and their most effective treatments.

Clinical Studies on Vyvanse Alternatives


L-Theanine is an amino acid available in supplement form and in green tea, and in boletus or “king” mushrooms. L-Theanine in supplement form was studied in a placebo-controlled clinical trial with 98 participants, all of whom had a physician-verified diagnosis of ADHD, but not all of whom were on medication. The trial split the participants into 2 groups — each group with an equal number of medicated and non-medicated persons. The group given 400mg L-Theanine daily for 6 weeks reported improved sleep patterns, a higher percentage of time asleep, and no adverse events. Authors of the trial suggested more research be done on larger groups to confirm how L-Theanine may help as an alternative ADHD treatment.22

Ginkgo Biloba — Effective Alternative to Vyvanse

A relatively small study tested the efficacy of Ginkgo Biloba as an alternative to prescription medication for ADD. The results reported significant improvements in symptoms such as hyperactivity, inattention, and immaturity factors without adverse effects. A strong suggestion for more and larger studies was expressed by the authors of the study.23

Omega-3s and PUFAs as Vyvanse Alternatives

Omega-3s and polyunsaturated fats such as EPA and DHA in the diet have been shown to reduce symptoms of inattention in ADHD, in a 12-week-long placebo-controlled trial published in the 2015 Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. A 16-week-long double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found adding dietary omega-3 fatty acids to the daily regimen increased working memory capacity in children with ADHD. Researchers strongly advocate more such studies be done, on adults as well as children.24,25

Finding the Root Cause Leads to Effective Treatment

Alternative to Meds Center has a fundamental aim — that is to discover and then resolve root causes for symptoms. Lab testing and other forms of correctly evaluating the potential sources of unwanted symptoms is the hallmark of our success. Please read more about lab testing, neurotoxin cleansing, and neurotransmitter rehabilitation, and how investigating root causes is key to designing a treatment plan that addresses specific areas for each individual.

Vyvanse Alternatives FAQ

Is Vyvanse Stronger Than Adderall?

Vyvanse always acts as an extended-release medication, because the drug is inactive until converted to an active amphetamine by enzymes after ingestion. Adderall is a combination of 3 amphetamines that do not require this conversion step to be active. Adderall comes in both an immediate-release and an extended-release medication. Both Vyvanse and Adderall are stimulants, and both are classed as Schedule II drugs by the DEA. Thus, comparing equivalency is most accurately accomplished by comparing Vyvanse and Adderall extended release. Both drugs may cause impairment of the ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. Both drugs can cause anorexia (lack of appetite) and gastrointestinal disorders including vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Both drugs can cause mania, anxiety, jitteriness, insomnia, and overstimulation of the heart. The FDA-recommended dose for Vyvanse for all ages is 30-70mg daily. The recommended dosage for Adderall ER is 10 to 30mg daily for children and 20mg daily for adults. The effects are comparable for both drugs, but the equivalent recommended dosage of Vyvanse ranges anywhere from 3 to 7 times that of Adderall.29

How Does Vyvanse Make You Feel?

Vyvanse is a stimulant. It can cause arousal, pleasurable, euphoric effects, and is highly subject to becoming habit-forming. Other effects include overstimulation of the heart, (pounding, racing heartbeat), anxiety, mania, stimulant-induced psychosis, seizures, insomnia, decreased appetite, blurred vision, and other gastro-related issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. At high doses, stimulants can cause sudden death.1

What Is the Difference Between Adderall and Vyvanse?

Vyvanse and Adderall are both stimulants, but Vyvanse requires the conversion to active amphetamine through an enzymatic response after you take the drug. Therefore, there is a lag to peak effects. Adderall comes in immediate and extended-release forms. Both are subject to becoming habit-forming, and both amphetamine drugs share the same very long list of adverse reactions.

Alternative to Meds Center Offers Proven Alternatives to Vyvanse

For nearly 20 years Alternative to Meds Center has been a sought-after retreat that offers science-based healing modalities for symptoms that drugs did not satisfactorily fix. Please spend some time on our services overview pages, to find out more about the treatments and therapies available to you or a loved one who is seeking this type of help. Alternatives to Vyvanse are our specialty and we have helped thousands of clients to reach their mental health goals without relying on prescription drugs.

1. FDA drug label Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dymesylate) oral capsules. Approval 2007 [cited 2023 Mar 29]

2. 2018 National Survey, US Dept. of Health. Key substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the US [published online by SAMHSA] [cited 2023 Mar 27]

3. Pinto S, Correia-de-Sá T, Sampaio-Maia B, Vasconcelos C, Moreira P, Ferreira-Gomes J. Eating Patterns and Dietary Interventions in ADHD: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2022 Oct 16;14(20):4332. doi: 10.3390/nu14204332. PMID: 36297016; PMCID: PMC9608000. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

4. 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 Mar 29]

5. Shareghfarid E, Sangsefidi ZS, Salehi-Abargouei A, Hosseinzadeh M. Empirically derived dietary patterns and food groups intake in relation with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2020 Apr;36:28-35. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2019.10.013. Epub 2020 Feb 18. PMID: 32220366. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

6. Gordon, E. L., Ariel-Donges, A. H., Bauman, V., & Merlo, L. J. (2018). What Is the Evidence for “Food Addiction?” A Systematic Review. Nutrients10(4), 477. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

7. Guerdjikova AI, Mori N, Blom TJ, Keck PE Jr, Williams SL, Welge JA, McElroy SL. Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate in binge eating disorder: a placebo controlled trial. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2016 Sep;31(5):382-91. doi: 10.1002/hup.2547. PMID: 27650406. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

8. Bull-Larsen S, Mohajeri MH. The Potential Influence of the Bacterial Microbiome on the Development and Progression of ADHD. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 17;11(11):2805. doi: 10.3390/nu11112805. PMID: 31744191; PMCID: PMC6893446. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

9. Terry, S.M., Barnett, J.A. & Gibson, D.L. A critical analysis of eating disorders and the gut microbiomeJ Eat Disord 10, 154 (2022). [cited 2023 Mar 29]

10. Hvolby A. Associations of sleep disturbance with ADHD: implications for treatment. Atten Defic Hyperact Disord. 2015 Mar;7(1):1-18. doi: 10.1007/s12402-014-0151-0. Epub 2014 Aug 17. PMID: 25127644; PMCID: PMC4340974. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

11. Chan V, Lo K. Efficacy of dietary supplements on improving sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Postgrad Med J. 2022 Apr;98(1158):285-293. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-139319. Epub 2021 Jan 13. PMID: 33441476. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

12. Banno, M., Harada, Y., Taniguchi, M., Tobita, R., Tsujimoto, H., Tsujimoto, Y., Kataoka, Y., & Noda, A. (2018). Exercise can improve sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysisPeerJ6, e5172. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

13. Markwald, R. R., Iftikhar, I., & Youngstedt, S. D. (2018). Behavioral Strategies, Including Exercise, for Addressing InsomniaACSM’s health & fitness journal22(2), 23–29. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

14. Allison KC, Spaeth A, Hopkins CM. Sleep and Eating Disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Oct;18(10):92. doi: 10.1007/s11920-016-0728-8. PMID: 27553980. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

15. Kadri, A., Slimani, M., Bragazzi, N. L., Tod, D., & Azaiez, F. (2019). Effect of Taekwondo Practice on Cognitive Function in Adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. International journal of environmental research and public health16(2), 204. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

16. Antonelli M, Barbieri G, Donelli D. Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on levels of cortisol as a stress biomarker: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Biometeorol. 2019 Aug;63(8):1117-1134. doi: 10.1007/s00484-019-01717-x. Epub 2019 Apr 18. PMID: 31001682. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

17. Firth, J., Teasdale, S. B., Allott, K., Siskind, D., Marx, W., Cotter, J., Veronese, N., Schuch, F., Smith, L., Solmi, M., Carvalho, A. F., Vancampfort, D., Berk, M., Stubbs, B., & Sarris, J. (2019). The efficacy and safety of nutrient supplements in the treatment of mental disorders: a meta-review of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA)18(3), 308–324. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

18. Pozzi M, Carnovale C, Mazhar F, Peeters GGAM, Gentili M, Nobile M, Radice S, Clementi E. Adverse Drug Reactions Related to Mood and Emotion in Pediatric Patients Treated for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Comparative Analysis of the US Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System Database. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2019 Jul/Aug;39(4):386-392. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000001058. PMID: 31205193. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

19. Canadian Pediatric Society Clinicians Guide, Non-pharmacological Interventions: Key Points for Treatment of ADHD [cited 2023 Mar 29]

20. Mack RA, Stanton CE, Carney MR. The importance of including occupational therapists as part of the multidisciplinary team in the management of eating disorders: a narrative review incorporating lived experience. J Eat Disord. 2023 Mar 9;11(1):37. doi: 10.1186/s40337-023-00763-6. PMID: 36894981; PMCID: PMC9996838. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

21. American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition intervention in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Dec;106(12):2073-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2006.09.007. PMID: 17186637. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

22. Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR. The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Dec;16(4):348-54. PMID: 22214254. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

23. Niederhofer H. Ginkgo biloba treating patients with attention-deficit disorder. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):26-7. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2854. PMID: 19441138. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

24. Bos DJ, Oranje B, Veerhoek ES, Van Diepen RM, Weusten JM, Demmelmair H, Koletzko B, de Sain-van der Velden MG, Eilander A, Hoeksma M, Durston S. Reduced Symptoms of Inattention after Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Boys with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Sep;40(10):2298-306. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.73. Epub 2015 Mar 19. PMID: 25790022; PMCID: PMC4538345. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

25. Widenhorn-Müller K, Schwanda S, Scholz E, Spitzer M, Bode H. Effect of supplementation with long-chain ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on behavior and cognition in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized placebo-controlled intervention trial. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2014 Jul-Aug;91(1-2):49-60. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2014.04.004. Epub 2014 May 28. PMID: 24958525. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

26. Wilson GT. Psychological treatment of eating disorders. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2005;1:439-65. doi: 10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144250. PMID: 17716095. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

27. Yau YH, Potenza MN. Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva Endocrinol. 2013 Sep;38(3):255-67. PMID: 24126546; PMCID: PMC4214609. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

28. Walsh BT. Psychopharmacologic treatment of bulimia nervosa. J Clin Psychiatry. 1991 Oct;52 Suppl:34-8. PMID: 1938987. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

29. FDA label Adderall ER [cited 2023 Mar 29]

30. Stella VJ, Charman WN, Naringrekar VH. Prodrugs. Do they have advantages in clinical practice? Drugs. 1985 May;29(5):455-73. doi: 10.2165/00003495-198529050-00002. PMID: 3891303. [cited 2023 Mar 29]

Originally Published April 14, 2021 by Lyle Murphy

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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