Adderall is a prescription medication that helps stimulate the brain. It’s most commonly known as a medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Certain natural supplements may help reduce symptoms of ADHD. They may also help balance stimulation and improve focus whether or not you have ADHD.

Keep reading to learn more about natural alternatives to Adderall and how they work.

A word of caution

Natural supplements can cause side effects and may interact with other medications.

Talk to a healthcare provider before trying any kind of supplement or changing your prescription medication dosage.

Citicoline is a pharmaceutical substance that’s identical to a natural precursor to phospholipid phosphatidylcholine.

Phospholipids help the brain function properly and may help heal brain damage. In Japan, citicoline was made into a medicine to help people recover from strokes.

A 2014 research review notes that citicoline supplements may help with brain and nervous system disorders like glaucoma and certain kinds of dementia. It may also help reduce symptoms of ADHD.

Citicoline is a prescription medication in some countries. In the United States, it’s sold as a supplement.

Side effects of taking citicoline are not yet known, although it’s nontoxic and typically well tolerated. More research is needed on its use as an alternative to Adderall for ADHD.

Methionine is an amino acid that the body needs to build brain chemicals.

The active form is called S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe). This form of methionine has been used as a supplement to help treat ADHD and depression symptoms.

A 4-week trial conducted in 1990 found that 75 percent of those (or 6 out of 8 adults) with ADHD who were treated with SAMe supplements showed improved symptoms.

However, this supplement may increase anxiety and manic episodes in adults who also have bipolar disorder. More research is needed to find the right dosage for methionine to treat ADHD as an alternative to Adderall.

Some children with ADHD may have low levels of certain mineral nutrients.

Normally, you can get plenty of minerals and other nutrients from a balanced diet.

A child who’s a picky eater, or who may have a medical condition that affects their body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients, may be not getting enough of the right nutrients. This may cause a mineral deficiency.

Research has shown that certain supplements may help reduce symptoms of ADHD in some children. This might occur because some minerals are needed to make brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).

These supplements include:

Ask your family pediatrician if mineral supplements are right for your child. If your child doesn’t have a mineral deficiency, taking extra supplements likely won’t help ADHD symptoms.

Vitamin B-6 helps make a brain chemical called serotonin. This nerve chemical is important for mood and feelings of calmness. Vitamin B-6 may work with the mineral magnesium to help balance brain chemicals.

In an early study, doctors gave vitamin B-6 and magnesium supplements to 40 children with ADHD.

The researchers noted that all the children had fewer symptoms after 8 weeks of taking the supplements.

Hyperactivity, aggressiveness, and mental focus improved.

The study found that the ADHD symptoms returned a few weeks after supplements were stopped.

Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a natural brain chemical that helps calm the nervous system. It works to lower levels of excitability and hyperactivity. GABA may also help ease anxiety and stress.

GABA supplements may help children and adults with ADHD who have symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and aggressiveness.

A 2016 study noted that GABA may help reduce these symptoms in children and adults with both ADHD and some mental health conditions.

Gingko biloba is an herbal supplement that’s commonly marketed to help improve memory and blood flow in older adults.

A 2014 study found that an extract from gingko biloba may help improve ADHD symptoms in children.

Twenty children were given the extract instead of ADHD medication for 3 to 5 weeks. All of the children showed improvements in test scores and had better overall quality of life.

More research and dosage testing is needed before gingko biloba can be used as an Adderall alternative in children and adults.

The antioxidant pycnogenol comes from grape seeds and pine bark. Taking this supplement may lower oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, which may in turn, lower ADHD symptoms.

Researchers are currently studying the role oxidative stress and inflammation play in triggering ADHD symptoms, but more research is needed to confirm this association.

A 2017 study found that pycnogenol supplements helped to significantly reduce symptoms of hyperactivity in children with ADHD.

It also improved attention, concentration, and hand-eye coordination over a 4-week period. It’s not yet known if adults with ADHD would have the same results.

Some supplements that contain a combination of herbs are sold as an alternative for people who need to take Adderall.

One such supplement is made up of a blend of several herbs and supplements including:

  • Humulus
  • Aesculus
  • Oenanthe
  • Aconite
  • Gelsemium
  • GABA
  • L-Tyrosine

According to a 2014 comparison study published in the Journal of Psychiatry, this combination supplement doesn’t affect sleep or appetite. It may help you stay calm and focused without anxiety and irritability.

People without ADHD can still have difficulty focusing or concentrating. They may feel that they’re easily distracted.

Some natural supplements may help you focus better and improve memory. These include:

  • Fish oil. Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, helps protect the brain.
  • Flax seed. Flax seed and other vegetarian sources provide omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial nutrients.
  • Vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 helps protect and maintain brain nerves.
  • Gingko biloba. Ginkgo biloba helps to increase blood flow to the brain.
  • Rosemary. Rosemary improves memory and alertness.
  • Mint. Mint improves memory.
  • Cocoa seed. Cocoa seed is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the brain.
  • Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds are rich in the amino acid tyrosine. They’re also a source of vitamin B-6, zinc and magnesium, which nurture brain health.
  • Saffron: Saffron improves brain function.

If you take Adderall when you don’t need it, it can overstimulate the brain. Adderall can also cause side effects if you’re taking it to treat ADHD.

Side effects include:

Talk to your healthcare provider before you change your dosage or decide to stop taking Adderall. Tell them about any side effects you have while taking this drug.

If Adderall is not right for you, your healthcare provider may recommend other prescription medications for ADHD, which can include:

  • dexmethylphenidate (Focalin XR)
  • lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
  • methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin)

Before taking supplements

Talk with your healthcare provider before trying any kind of supplement.

Some herbal supplements can cause side effects. Taking too many vitamins and minerals can be harmful for your body.

Vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA in the United States. Also, dosage, ingredient, and source information on the bottle may not be completely accurate.

If you or your child has ADHD, prescription medications can help reduce symptoms and improve everyday quality of life. Adderall is commonly prescribed to treat ADHD.

Adderall can cause side effects and may not be right for everyone. Some herbs, mineral, and vitamin supplements may be natural alternatives.

Natural supplements can also cause side effects or interactions. Discuss their use with your healthcare provider before taking them.