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12 Best Over the Counter Adderall Alternatives for Studying

adderall alternatives

Adderall is one of the most used, and most trusted prescription for ADHD symptoms. But, many people don’t like taking them, with good reason. The side effects are scary, especially the long-term impact on brain health and addiction.

That’s why so many people seek out Adderall substitutes. They are often seeking a direct replacement for Adderall that can be taken when they want and how they want. Unfortunately, nothing works like Adderall. And OTC Adderall is illegal (so don’t do it). The best substitutes don’t have the power, reliability, or sanctioning that Adderall has. If they did, they would be prescriptions, too.

adderall side effects

But, that doesn’t mean they don’t work. Some of these are time tested, others are research tested. All of them have a history of helping people think better, clearer, and focus better. These 12 that we present have a history of helping people with ADHD symptoms. They are natural alternatives to Adderall that work with your body, not against it.

Alternatives to Adderall come in 3 varieties: Prescription, Nootropics, Herbals. We aren’t going to cover the prescription ones, your doctor will. We’re going to let you know about the natural alternatives to Adderall.

Here’s the warning for all of these: If you are taking Adderall, you must talk to your doctor before stopping your medication, starting any of these substitutes, or beginning any lifestyle change. Serious side effects can happen if you don’t talk to your doctor.

Always start with the lowest dose possible1 and work your way up. Never exceed the maximum dose; most of these can cause serious side effects, even fatal ones, if you do not follow the warnings and dosing instructions.

AdderRx *

adder rx

This is a mid-range nootropic that many people have used to stimulate their learning and concentration. AdderRx works best in the long-term. It’s best if you take it all through a semester to get the biggest band at finals time. And, although it’s recommended for long-term use, the vast majority of people experience no withdrawal symptoms.1

AdderRx does have side effects, but they are considered mild and most people never experience them when they follow proper dosing. Many people find they can sleep better with AdderRx because they are able to constructively use their energies during the day.



AddTabz is a short- and long-term aid for concentration, focus, and improved memory. It uses Ampheta CDP, a proprietary blend of ingredients created by Gentech Labs and Pharmaceutical’s. The website promises that AddTabz give the stimulation like the stimulant amphetamine, but without the addicting side effects or long-term dangers. They are clear to say that is does not contain amphetamines.

AddTabz works well, very well. It’s rather strong and is too strong for people trying out these types of stimulants for the first time. There are many listed side effects for people unaccustomed to how powerful this nootropic is.

Adrafinil/Modafinil *


Adrafinil and Modafinil are two sides of prescription and natural supplement. Adrafinil, the supplement, is considered safer than the prescription Modafinil. Both stimulate and enhance energy, increase the proper hormones and neuropathways for being alert, and slightly increasing memory.

Many people turn to Adrafinil over Modafinil because they want to avoid the side effects of the prescription. Modafinil has stronger side effects, due to being a stronger drug. Adrafinil is more natural and works subtler in the body.1

Modafinil has fallen lower on the favor list than Adderall and it’s derivatives. Caution needs to be used when applying Adrafinil if you take any other prescription.

It’s often recommended that you take a B Vitamin supplement to augment these two. Adrafinil is often combined with other nootropics and medications to help enhance memory.

Alpha Brain *

alpha brain

Alpha Brain is a lower cost nootropic, although not the lowest cost. Alpha Brain provides memory enhancement and the nutritional supplements to help retain what you learn. As a combination, you get the buffering power of multiple stimulants, and supporting vitamins.

Alpha Brain is used in the long term because it contains many components that work best when they are built up in your system. Because it is more natural, there are less side effects.

The problem with Alpha Brain is that it hasn’t quite been scientifically proven to work. It has been on the market for many years, and most of the individual components are proven to give more energy and/or concentration. Still, hundreds of reviews online and in forums attest to Alpha Brain giving more energy and focus to people. If it’s an introduction to nootripics you are looking for, start with Alpha Brain.


This is a moderately powerful stimulant that does not have many side effects. The biggest focus with Aniracetam is that it improves your mood. You are more able to deal with many of the changes and stresses of studying without breaking down or crying. While Aniracetam does give you clarity and focus, it mostly works as mood regulator. If you suffer mood swings or irrational thoughts, Aniracetam is the nootropic that works.

B Vitamins *

b vitamins

Your brain uses nearly half of all the B vitamins we consume. The brain and the learning experience has a voracious appetite for B6, B12, and folic acid. The supporting vitamins of niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid help the rest of the body keep up with your brain. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is required for energy production and you’ll fall asleep studying without it.

Without B Vitmains, your brain feels foggy, slow, and you will have a hard time forming proper memories. Today, people who eat a high amount of processed foods do not get enough B Vitamins. For the college student: pizza does not contain many, if any, B Vitamins.

A generally low level B Vitamin supplement is good to keep your levels in the normal range. All B Vitamins are water soluble, and excess is easily flushed from our systems. There is no point in taking high doses of B Vitamins without a doctor’s supervision because we will simply flush out the extra.

Noopept *


Noopept works best for people who are experience great stress or traumatic times. It works by increasing alpha-waves in the brain, memory and recall. The biggest impact is being able to shut out distractions and excess noise.

In other areas of the world, Noopept is being used by the medical community to help people through traumatic experiences. In the short term, people are able to focus better and resolve the worst of their situations without succumbing to useless emotions.

Noopept is one of the strongest nootropics on this list, along with the one with the most potential side effects. Use with care.

omega 3 fatty acids

During fetal and early brain development, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are required in high concentrations to form all the new neuropathways we develop as we grow. A child’s brain will double in size every couple of months for the first few years of life.

Once we reach adulthood, our brain stops growing, but we keep adding new memories and connections. The omega fatty acids create those connections and protect the nerves from damage. As we age, we need to keep our levels of the omegas, especially Omega-3, high to retain brain health.

Leading research into Alzheimer’s disease uses the saturated fats and Omega fatty acids of coconut oil to help reduce brain deterioration. Omega-3 supplements are easy to get. Be sure to get the one that works for you. Several brands contain fish and shellfish components, so if you are allergic or sensitive, you need to watch out.

Pycnogenol *


This is French Maritime Pine Bark Extract. It has a variety of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids that help increase the blood flow to various areas of the body.

Most of the research and use of this herbal is in French. However, it has been highlighted on various US programs, such as Dr Oz. While not a sign of any type of quality, people are flocking to this herb because of the promotions (we discovered the company paid for the promotion by Dr Oz).

Here’s the tough part. While having over 50 years of research and use, it is highly regulated and often not used as an over-the-counter remedy. It was not even popularly known in the US except for the past few years.

Not enough it known right now to say whether this is a good supplement, only that is a popular supplement.


Piracetam is similar to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), but without depressing the natural GABA receptors. So, your body is able to still produce and use GABA naturally and without depression. In the medical community, it modulates the neurotransmitters cholinergic acid and glutamatergic acid, has neuroprotective and anticonvulsant properties, and improves neuroplasticity. It can also help reduce social anxiety.

It is a mid-level nootropic that has a moderate cost. It also has a low incidence of side effects.

Transcendental Meditation

transcendental meditation

This specific type of meditation stimulates nearly all parts of the brain and promotes brain healing. Students at UCLA were taught this meditation and encouraged to practice every day without changing any other activity or habit. Grades rose for most of the student body by just over 1 full letter grade.

As a side note to the study, arrests and disciplinary infractions were reduced by nearly 60%. The study was not able to determine if a correlation existed between the meditation and reduction in problems.

There are hundreds of centers and courses to teach transcendental meditation. Most universities now offer a wo1rkshop or class for this meditation. Several books and online sites offer help as well. It’s best to study under a teacher to reach the full benefits.

Zinc *


This is one mineral where scientists can’t quite figure out how it works. The brain contains nearly half of all the zinc in our bodies. We know that a zinc deficiency leads to decreased learning ability, ADHD, apathy, lethargy and mental retardation. A lack of zinc also increases the permeability of the blood brain barrier, allowing more toxins to reach the brain.

Several studies have shown that zinc supplementation helps increase cognitive abilities for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and brain injury.

Zinc is more important for men to supplement. Every time a man achieves sexual pleasure, they lose nearly 3 mg of zinc. For sexually active men, a supplement will help keep your energy up and your release strong.


One of the best things you can do for yourself if to seek out good nutrition first. Cut out the chemicals, preservatives, and toxins from processed foods. Eliminate foods with added sugars or wheat. And make sure you get enough water.

We think it’s best to start off supplementing with regular vitamins. Most people find that with good foods and good vitamin/mineral supplements, they don’t need artificial stimulants. Once you have proper nutrition, and you find that you are lagging on energy, focus, or concentration, the other nootropics we listed will be the most beneficial for you.

Once your body has the nutrition it need, then stimulating the brain to help you study will be much easier and require less supplementation. This saves you both time and potential side effects.

Any of these supplements will help you, as long as you follow the instructions and consult your physician before starting them. All of these have the potential to cause side effects if not taken as directed.

We hope this list is your go-to list on how to choose supplements to help you study. It will take you all the way from basic, nearly no risk supplements to active, high-level stimulation. Choose wisely and study hard!

If you liked our article, please share it and use the comment section below to tell us about your experiences or ask any questions. Thanks!

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{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Tyra pitt April 12, 2016, 2:44 am

    Where can you buy pycnogenol??

    • Mark April 24, 2016, 12:17 am

      Hello, Tyra pitt!

      Thank you for your question. You can purchase Pycnogenol at Amazon website (you can click the link in the related section of our article and will be redirected to Amazon) or from any other reseller of Pycnogenol company at this link http://www.pycnogenol.com/shop/. Hope it helps.

  • helpful owl August 23, 2016, 8:33 am

    Or try this instead http://ow.ly/6Dgj303uxEW, its a scientific blend proven to be way more effective

    • Mark September 15, 2016, 2:21 pm

      Hello, Helpful owl!

      Thank you for sharing with us this supplement. But I’d like to know your proofs that it’s way more effective than those we’ve already reviewed here.

  • Joyce October 4, 2016, 8:46 pm

    im doing matric and i cant concentrate while im reading or even when i read next day i cant even remeber what i’ve read so what must i use

    • Mark October 25, 2016, 8:56 pm

      Hi Joyce!

      I’m glad you found us, and I hope we can help.

      We recommend you talk to your doctor to see exactly why you’re having difficulty reading and remembering. There are many issues that can cause that. We want to make sure that you are healthy first.

      The recommendations we have here will help for concentration and remembering. Certain vitamin deficiencies may cause memory problems and difficulty to concentrate. We have a post discussing the vitamins and minerals that are essential for focus and memory here.

      Sometimes changing your diet is enough to see a major boost in your brain functions. We have some food suggestions here.

      Hope this helps.

  • LiQcovery Nutrition, LLC October 21, 2016, 12:19 am

    Its really helpful by reading this blog i get all knowledge Adderal that how much should we take and what the positive and negative we get by that .

    • Mark October 29, 2016, 12:21 am

      Thank you for your thoughts here. You’re welcome! I’d rather prefer to see your real name here in the comment and not the company name.

  • amy October 30, 2016, 9:00 pm

    If one is looking for the alternative most like Adderall in effectiveness (given that there are still side effects), which one of these would you say is closest in terms of physically noticing that surge of focus energy one gets from Adderall? I ask as a researcher, ADD sufferer, and person with dementia in the family. Brain research is my wheelhouse!

    • Mark December 11, 2016, 4:36 pm

      Hi Amy!

      It’s a tough question when you asked which one is the best.

      Everyone reacts differently to the different alternatives and medications.

      What works for one person may not work at all for another.

      We have found that to be the case for many of the alternatives we were looking at.

      Without knowing you or your individual health issues, the best we can recommend is to talk to a health professional about trying some of these alternatives and see which one does work best for you.

      If you do come across one that works the best, please let us know so we can let everyone else know as well.

  • Amy November 17, 2016, 2:55 pm

    My son is 9 years old and has ADD he cant focus does not pay attention and con not concentrate at school .All the medicines that has been prescribed to him have caused him to have bad reactions,the last nail breaker was this past Friday with Vyvanse hour after he took it,his whole right side went numb.We spent hours at the hospital..He had what they called a adverse reaction..I want to try an over the counter more natural approach..is there anything that would help?

    • Mark December 11, 2016, 4:31 pm

      Hi Amy!

      This is a pretty serious problem, and we’re glad you were working with your doctor to make sure your son has the best ability in school and has the best health he can possibly have.

      Many of the alternatives we have recommended are completely natural and help people who have ADHD problems.

      We do not recommend combining these alternatives with any prescription medications.

      It may also be a good idea to talk to an herbalist or a naturopath to determine if there is a natural approach that will not interact with anything your son may be going through.

      Because of his past reactions to the medication, we do not recommend you try out various alternatives until you talk to a health professional.

  • Sandra Shill December 24, 2016, 6:39 pm

    Thanks for the article… I’ll look into some of these further!

    One question though…some of your entries have an asterisk after the heading, but I can’t find where the asterisk leads to. What does the asterisk signify?

    • Mark December 31, 2016, 12:03 am

      Hello, Sandra Shill!

      You’re welcome! Thank you for paying my attention to this. We use an asterisk to mark the links to the products and/or services where we may get a commission for buying or using them by our readers (affiliate links). At the end of those pages, you can find a much detailed explanation to this. On the other hand, I noticed that some of the sentences inside the articles highlighted and have a small blue star at the end. I have no idea what are these and will submit a request to our technical support to investigate this further. Thank you!

      • Sandra Shill December 31, 2016, 12:56 am

        You’re welcome, and thanks for your response! Actually, I think I was referring to what must be your “affiliate” asterisks (the red ones, like “Zinc*”), but I didn’t see anything that indicated that that’s what those asterisks meant. Not being able to find where an asterisk leads to is one of those little things that drives me batty, so thanks for clearing up the mystery! 🙂

        • Mark January 28, 2017, 3:25 pm

          Hey, Sandra!
          Thank you too :)! I’ll try to fix this mystery in the future.

  • Vanessa January 16, 2017, 6:15 am

    Hello:I’ve just found out I have a problem with real low vit. D, which has affected my fatigue level severely! I’m looking for the natural for energy! Can you help?

    • Mark February 5, 2017, 3:12 pm

      Hey Vanessa!

      Having low vitamin D levels does affect your energy levels and your mood.

      One of the best ways you can increase your vitamin D is to get out into the sun.

      However, much of the year it is too cold to be out in the sun and get enough sunlight. Supplementation with D3 can really help.

      Other foods that contain vitamin D include mushrooms, fish, and other meats.

  • Ricky Marshall February 7, 2017, 10:20 am

    “Several brains contain fish and shellfish components, so if you are allergic or sensitive, you need to watch out.”

    I have good reason to suspect someone I know has such a brain, what should I do?

    • Mark March 3, 2017, 1:25 am

      Hello, Ricky Marshall!

      Just like I answered before, this was a mistake. We’ve already fixed it. Instead of “brains” there need to be the word “brands”. Thank you for notifying us!

  • Daryl Gentile February 16, 2017, 3:11 am

    Do you personally use any of the products you listed in this article? Or have you used any? If so which ? Did it give you that bang of energy ? That almost imperative need to do something take action you know like get moving??

    • Mark March 21, 2017, 10:29 pm

      Hey Daryl!

      We rely on a combination of our own personal experiences and the experiences of friends and advisers.

      Some of the things on our website we have used ourselves, while others we rely on others to describe their effects.

      In many of the articles, we actually write about our own personal experiences.

  • Bill Doyle February 17, 2017, 9:48 pm

    From the section on fatty acids:
    “Several brains contain fish and shellfish components”.
    Considering the subject, an easy mistake to make.
    (Product reduces these errors)

    • Mark March 3, 2017, 1:21 am

      Hi, Bill Doyle!

      I’m really sorry for that mistake inside the article. Of course, there need to be word “brands” instead of “brains”. We’ve already fixed it.
      Thank you for letting us know! Have a great day!

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