Nootropics For ADHD & ADD
The number of children, adults and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD seems to increase every single year. As well as people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD), there is a massive group of people who struggle on a daily basis with an inability to focus, brain fog and chronic mental fatigue.
Many people who struggle with the symptoms of ADHD have found that nootropic supplements are the answer. Whether it's natural supplements made of herbal nootropics and amino acids or it's pharmaceutical smart drugs, people use nootropics every day to overcome symptoms of ADHD/ADD.
But which nootropics actually work for ADHD?
Just because a nootropic enhances cognitive function or improves brain health does not mean that it works for ADHD. Of course overcoming ADHD involves enhancing cognitive performance. But ADHD has very specific symptoms with precise causes, so not every cognitive enhancer is a good nootropic for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In this article, we're going to look at the best nootropics for ADHD/ADD that you can use right now to impove focus, support productivity and increase mental energy.
What is ADHD?
Before we look at the best nootropics for ADHD, we need to understand what ADHD is and its causes.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Attention deficit disorder (ADD) are actually the same condition. ADD is simply a (now outdated) term previously used to describe ADHD. Today, ADD is typically used to refer to inattentive-type ADHD which is characterized by forgetfulness, disorganization, and scattered thinking.
ADHD has symptoms which broadly affect mental performance, especially executive functions like focus, decision making, learning, working/short-term memory, and motivation.
Put simply, the symptoms of ADHD include:
- Inability to focus
- Compulsive behaviors
- Fidgeting/difficulty sitting still
- Emotional instability/mood swings
- Frequent vocal outbursts
- Difficulty letting others speak
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Difficulty learning new information
Those of you with experience using nootropics will instantly recognize a lot of symptoms that can be countered using brain supplements. In sections below we will go through the most effective nootropics for treating ADHD symptoms. But first, we need to look at the root causes of ADHD in neurochemistry.
ADHD & Brain Chemistry
So what is actually going on at the level of brain cells with ADHD? Or put another way, what causes ADHD on a neurochemical level?
The causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are not completely agreed upon by clinicians. Certain researchers emphasize certain causes, while other medical professionals focus on different factors.
That said, all experts agree that a leading fundamental cause of ADHD relates to issues with neurotransmitters.
The fact that ADHD results from problems with neurotransmitter balance makes sense when you consider how ADHD medications work (and how the top nootropics for ADHD work as well). For example, the active ingredient in Adderall (amphetamine) works by boosting levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Boosting neurotransmitter synthesis, especially catecholamine neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, improves mental focus, concentration, learning and behavior control. That is why drugs which boost these neurotransmitters are so effective for treating ADHD.
Best Nootropics For ADHD
What are the best nootropics you can take for ADHD?
There are actually a number of ADHD-friendly supplements on the market today which have been specifically designed to replicate many of the effects of prescription ADHD drugs without any of the associated negative side effects.
These best nootropic stacks for ADHD tend to use a specific combination of nootropic ingredients which work together to counter some of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Here is a brief rundown of the most effective nootropics for ADHD symptoms you can buy over the counter today.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid which works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. This is exactly how some standard ADHD medications work too. Adderall, for example, works by rapidly increasing both norepinephrine and dopamine levels. By increasing levels of dopamine, L-Tyrosine boosts motivation, increases focus and helps you concentrate on a single task for prolonged periods.
Neurotransmitter imbalance is a key cause of many symptoms of ADHD. This is true whether you have been diagnosed with ADHD or not. Achieving a healthy neurotransmitter balance will help you eliminate the lack of focus and demotivation so typical of ADHD, and L-Tyrosine is one of the most effective ways to restore optimal dopamine levels.
Citicoline is perhaps the single most effective natural nootropic for enhancing executive cognitive function in the world. This cholinergic compound readily crosses the blood brain barrier. Once in the brain, it is broken down into choline and cytidine. The choline is used for neurotransmitter synthesis (specifically acetylcholine), while the cytidine is used to create new neuron cell membranes.
Both of these effects of Citicoline supplementation result in massive improvements in executive cognitive function. Studies show increases in focus, concentraton, processing speeds, and reaction times following Citicoline supplementation. The same studies do not report any major negative effects. All fo this makes Citicoline one of the best nootropic supplements for ADHD in existence.
L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine are the two amino acids that you want to see in any nootropic stack for ADHD. Along with Tyrosine, L-Theanine is easily one of the best natural nootropics for overall cogniive enhancement, and it is particularly well suited to fighting symptoms of ADHD.
L-Theanine binds to glutamate receptors in the brain. This reduces overall CNS excitation, helping to prevent things like scattered thinking, hyperactivity, and anxiety/intrusive thoughts. Theanine also seems to promote the synthesis of serotonin, dopamine and GABA, helping to better balance neurotransmitter levels, further helping fight symptoms of ADHD.
Doses of 150-200mg of L-Theanine have been found to dramatically reduce brain fog. This makes it a great natural supplement for dealin with the brain fog you get from ADHD and Adderall withdrawals.
Caffeine requires little explanation. This is one of the most popular drugs in the world, and it is without doubt one of the most effective natural supplements for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms you can take.
The positive effects of caffeine are well-known; you likely experience them every day to a small degree: enhanced cognitive performance, sharper focus, increased mental energy, reduced fatigue, and impoved mood. Combining caffeine with other nootropics for ADHD produces a 'flow' like state of intense focus and prolonged motivation.
Using caffeine to treat ADHD is a risky tactic. As a stimulant, it should not be taken in large doses, and you should not be combined with smart drugs, ADHD drugs or other stimulants (e.g. Adderall, Vyvanse, Desoxyn, etc). Caffeine is a great nootropic for ADHD when dosed intelligently and combined with L-Theanine.
B6 may seem like a simple vitamin, but it is an integral nutrient for maintaining healthy brain function, and supplementing with Vitamin B6 is known to boost mental performance and it may help with symptoms of ADHD. B6 is needed for energy metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, and to regulate blood sugar levels. These are all vital processes for maintaining focus and normal cognitive function.
With no real adverse effects and a plethora of proven benefits, Vitamin B6 is a fantastic nootropic to have in any stack and one of the best supplements to take if you suffer from symptoms of ADHD.
Vitamin B6 is a necessary cofactor in the sythesis of dopamine from L-Tyrosine. It is therefore vital that you combine an L-Tyrosine supplement with a good dose of B6. Otherwise your L-Tyrosine supplement is practically pointless!
Vitamin B12 is in just about every dietary supplement. The reason for this is that it has such a broad range of roles in the body, and because so many people are deficient in B12 without realising! B12 has a direct effect on executive function as it is needed for the maintenance and creation of neurons. B12 also increases energy metabolism, including in your brain cells.
Because it can support healthy neuron regeneration and promote healthy brain cell metabolism, B12 can help with ADHD in almost every case, especially if you are deficient.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Several studies have already shown that supplementing Omega 3 fatty acids (specifically EPA and especially DHA) can significantly improve the symptoms of ADHD. Eating a diet low in omega 3s is also linked with a drastically higher risk of developing ADHD.
In one study of around 200 schoolchildren, those who ate a low omega-3 diet had a 31 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD. Other clinical trials show that low omega 3 levels can degrade dopamine and serotonin receptors, which would greatly exaccerbate ADHD symptoms. If you have ADHD and don't already take omega 3 supplements, you should consider trying them.
Phosphatidylserine is a phenomenal supplement for improving neurotransmitter receptor health and safeguarding overall cognitive function in the long-term. Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid. You need it to build brain cell membranes. You also need it to properly recycle dying brain cells into new, healthy ones.
This is a common nootropic ingredient in daily stacks, but it isn't often recommended for ADHD. However, the improvements in mental performance (including focus and working memory) observed following phosphatidylserine supplementation make it a great nootropic for treating ADHD.
Dynamine, a branded form of Methylliberine, is increasingly finding its way into energy supplements and natural stimulants for ADHD. The reason for Dynamine's growing popularity is the fact that it is viewed as a safer alternative to caffeine. There is evidence that Dynamine acts as a potent natural stimulant but without causing the same side effects as caffeine.
No studies have yet looked at using Dynamine for ADHD. However, combining caffeine, theanine and methylliberine has been shown to rapidly increase mental and physical energy, enhance focus and boost motivation.
Ginkgo biloba is one of the best natural nootropics for broad spectrum cognitive enhancement. Ginkgo works by increasing blood flow to the brain. It does this both by making your blood less viscous and by dilating your brain blood vessels. This allows more oxygen and nutrients to flow to your brain cells. It also makes any ADHD nootropics you take more effective since they can be more efficiently delivered to your brain tissues.
Do Nootropics Work For ADHD?
The fact of the mattr is that no natural supplements will ever be able to fully treat ADHD. Certainly not to the same degree that Adderall, Vyvanse or Ritalin can work for ADHD symptoms. Natural nootropics simply cannot alter brain chemistry enough to fully eliminate or prevent the fidgeting, lack of focus, brain fog, or compulsive behaviors that characterize ADHD.
However, some nootropics can help treat ADHD and related conditions. As well as smart drugs like Modafinil and Oxiracetam, natural nootropics such as Citicoline, Caffeine, Theanine and Tyrosine can help treat ADHD symptoms. What is important is that you take a holistic approach to treating ADHD naturally and do not try to use over the counter supplements as a replacement or substitute for pescription medication.
Can you treat ADHD with nootropics alone?
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a complex conition, the exact causes of which are not completely known. It is doubtful that diagnosed cases of ADHD can be fully treated using nootropics alone.
That said, certain nootropics can help a lot with the symptoms of ADHD, like distractibility, inability to concentrate, acting without thinking, and impulsiveness. It may surprise you, but the best nootropics for ADHD can help focus the mind for prolonged periods while also quieting the CNS to prevent fidgeting and compulsive behaviors.
It is always best to follow the advice of your doctor and stick to any medication they have prescribed you. If you have ADHD, standard treatments are more effective than using natural nootropics instead. Do your own research and consult with a medical professional before using any ADHD nootropics.
Why Prescription ADHD Meds Don't Always Work
Prescription drugs do not always work the same for everybody.
For some people, the adverse effects of prescription ADHD medication outweigh the benefits. This is particularly true in mild cases of ADHD, or in people who use drugs like Adderall and Vyvanse but who do not have an ADHD diagnosis and are instead using them for cognitive enhancement.
Prescription drug interactions also complicate matters a lot. Many people have ADHD and other conditions requiring daily medication. ADHD meds like Adderall and Vyvanse interact strongly with other medications (such as anti-depressants or sedatives). In some cases, these drug interactions can stop ADHD meds from working.
In these cases, nootropic supplements can be an ideal solution.
Prescription “Smart Drugs” vs. Nootropics for ADHD
Prescription medications are obviously the best option if you have been diagnosed with ADHD or a related condition. If your doctor thinks prescription smart drugs are the best course for you, then that's what you should take.
But if you are just looking to enhance cognitive performance, then prescription smart drugs are a terrible idea. Using ADHD meds can severely disrupt healthy brain function in people who do not have ADHD. The spikes in neurotransmitters you get from using Adderall can damage dopamine and norepinephrine receptor health, causing long-term cognitive issues.
The bottom line is, if you have ADHD and you've been prescribed Adderall, Ritalin or Provigil, then you should take those drugs. But if you have not been diagnosed with ADHD, these medications can be extremely detrimental to your brain health and mental health. In that case, use nootropics for ADHD instead.
The Drawbacks of Using Stimulants to Treat ADHD
Stimulants are the go-to treatment for ADHD. Severe cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder respond very well to stimulants like amphetamine and methylphenidate. But there are several drawbacks of using powerful stimulants to treat ADHD.
The main drawback to using powerful stimulants for ADHD is of course the side effects. Common side effects of prescription ADHD meds include:
- Disturbed or inadequate sleep
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
Long-term abuse of ADHD meds - particularly if you do not have ADHD - can cause downregulation of catecholamine neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA. This can cause serious and lasting problems for your mental health and cognitive performance. It can also prevent adequate sleep for years.
Final Words: What Is The Best Natural Stimulant For ADHD?
If you're looking for the best natural stimulant for treating ADHD, then you should really consider using nootropic stacks.
Simply taking large doses of stimulants like caffeine or methylliberine can help with focus and mental energy, but this strategy will never deliver the same results as you get from using a comprehensive nootropic stack purpose-designed to help with symptoms of ADHD.
Vyvamind has been custom-designed to deliver comprehensive cognitive enhancement alongside a real but controlled lift in mental energy. By using an intelligent caffeine dose alongside nootropic ingredients clinically proven to boost dopamine, increase concentration, and enhance learning, Vyvamind mimics many of the most popular smart drugs without the associated side effects.
DIsclaimer: Vyvamind is not an alternative to Adderall, Vyvanse or other prescription medications. Vyvamind is currently not covered by insurance. Talk to your doctor before using Vyamind or any other nootropics if you are already taking ADHD medication. Ingredients in Vyvamind will interact with amphetamine-based drugs.
What is an alternative to stimulants for ADHD?
Alternatives to stimulants for ADHD proven to be effective include Atomoxetine, Guanfacine XR, and Clonidine X. Natural nootropics are not an alternative to prescribed ADHD medications. Follow the advice of your doctor.
Is Ashwagandha good for ADHD?
Ashwagandha may be a good nootropic for ADHD. Clinical research shows that a combination herbal product containing ashwagandha may improve attention and impulse control in children with ADHD. It is likely that you need to stack ashwagandha to see major effects on ADHD symptoms.
What herbs help with ADHD?
Many herbal nootropics have been proven to help with ADHD symptoms. In particular, Theanine appears to be effective for reducing brain fog, increasing focus and controlling the anxiety that comes with the use of stimulants.
Can GABA help with ADHD?
As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA might help with some symptoms of ADHD, such as fidgeting or lack of behavior control. Research suggests it might also be key in reducing seizure activity, mood disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
What is the strongest nootropic for ADHD?
Modafinil is probably the strongest nootropic for treating ADHD symptoms. Some clinicians actually prescribe modafinil to people with ADHD in cases where traditional treatments like Adderall, Concerta or Vyvanse are not working but the patient needs something stronger than herbal remedies.