closest thing to adderall over the counter

Adderall Alternatives: Best Over the Counter Substitutes

David Tomen
David Tomen
14 minute read

Thousands of college students go to their health clinic asking for Adderall. Or get it from an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) friend who’s willing to part with a few tablets from their monthly prescription.[i]

Because they feel Adderall makes them more productive. And it helps them stay up at night to study.[ii]

At least that’s what they’ve been told. And it turns out this stimulant drug will help keep you awake. One of the many side effects of this amphetamine is insomnia.

But a study drug?

What is not commonly known is one of the reasons why sleep is so critical is that long-term memory is consolidated while you sleep.

What you study during the day is consolidated and integrated into long-term memory during the short-wave stage of sleep.[iii]

If you don’t get enough quality sleep, you suffer from poor memory. And you’ll not be able to recall what you studied the night before for your exam the next day.

But it’s not just college kids. Athletes, executives, and the military use stimulants like Adderall too.

Because they think it makes them more productive, improves reaction time, and prevents fatigue so they can work harder and longer.

But at what cost?

How Adderall Works in your Brain

Adderall is an amphetamine. It’s a combo of 25% levoamphetamine salts and 75% dextroamphetamine salts.

It rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier and goes inside the presynaptic terminal of monoamine neurons.

Once inside, Adderall interacts with trace amine-associated transporter 1 (TAAR1) and vesicular monoamine transporters 2 (VMAT2) which reverses the direction of the transporters.[iv]

Forcing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine that was stored in synaptic vesicles and pushing it back out of the neuron. Providing the stimulant effect most are seeking when using Adderall.

The problem is studies have demonstrated that amphetamines can be toxic to neurons. Because these drugs will eventually reduce levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and transporters in the brain, impair receptor function and dendrite growth.[v]

This would explain why tolerance to Adderall becomes a problem. And why you need to use higher and higher doses of this drug to achieve the same effect.[vi]

But many are becoming wise to the side effects of prescription stimulants like Adderall. And are looking for natural OTC alternatives like Mind Lab Pro®.

Because unless you’re clinically and truly ADD or ADHD and realizing Adderall’s benefit, the perceived short-term benefits to you if you’re not, are not worth the cost to your brain health.

closest thing to adderall over the counter

Closest Thing to Adderall Over the Counter

First, there is no such thing as a “natural Adderall” alternative. Anyone who tells you that they sell an “Over the Counter Adderall Alternative” is not being honest.

And here’s why …

Recall that Adderall works by reversing the action of the monoamine transporters TAAR1 and VAMT2. And activating TAAR1 receptors.[vii] Forcing dopamine and norepinephrine out of synaptic vesicles and back out of the neuron.

This action provides the stimulant effect of Adderall.

No natural substance known to man can exactly mimic this behavior.

But what we can do with nootropics is increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine naturally. And studies show that if higher dosages of these nootropics are used, it will activate TAAR1 receptors.[viii]

Which will contribute to a mood lift, and better memory. And the addition of an acetylcholine precursor can make you more alert. Creating a stack of natural otc Adderall alternatives may be your best alternative..

You get the benefit of being able to work longer and faster.

And you avoid the potential Adderall side effects of brain cell toxicity, tolerance, addiction, abdominal pain, anorexia, constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, insomnia, jitteriness, irritability, nausea, or palpitations.

Or the nasty withdrawal symptoms once you quit Adderall.

I am Adult ADD and have taken advantage of this mechanism of action with natural nootropics to support daily Ritalin use.

In fact, not long after starting Nootropics Expert® I weaned off the Ritalin I was using. And tried an experiment.

I used my ADD nootropic stack for one year and was able to control my Adult ADD symptoms using only natural supplements.

I’ve shared this natural way to control ADD and ADHD symptoms with tens of thousands since. And know this works.

That’s next …

legal alternative to adderall

The 3 Best Natural Adderall Alternatives

In this section I’ll briefly detail the ingredients of 3 pre-made natural nootropic stacks. That can provide most of the benefits normally associated with Adderall including reducing ADD and ADHD symptoms.

I’ve been using this first nootropic stack made by Performance Lab® for the last couple of years on an “as needed” basis.

And it provides the temporary stimulant boost most are looking for when using Adderall. But without the negatives because it acts as a central nervous system stimulant.

Performance Lab® Caffeine 2

If you routinely stop at Starbucks® for a Grande, or the corner store for an energy drink, or use Adderall for its stimulant boost – this natural nootropic stimulant stack called Performance Lab® Caffeine 2 may be a great alternative for you.

Performance Lab Caffeine 2Here’s how it works …

Natural Caffeine 50 mg (from Coffea Robusta seeds)

Caffeine acts by blocking adenosine receptor subtypes A1 and A2A which in turn increases wakefulness. Instead of becoming sleepy, you are more alert.[ix]

But caffeine also influences acetylcholine, epinephrine, serotonin and boosts dopamine use which also contributes to its stimulant effects.

Caffeine also activates the release of excess cortisol, restricts blood flow, and depletes water-soluble B-Vitamins.

The rest of this stack counteracts the negatives associated with caffeine use.

L-Theanine 100 mg

L-Theanine increases Alpha brain waves which promotes alert relaxation. It boosts serotonin, dopamine, GABA and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in your brain.[x]

And L-Theanine helps relieve the stress of excess cortisol. All counteracting many of the negatives of caffeine use.

L-Tyrosine 250 mg

Caffeine’s stimulant effect is produced in part by increases in the release of the catecholamines dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Releasing these neurotransmitters into the extracellular space is similar to how Adderall works.

But this demand on increased catecholamines can result in attention problems, mood imbalances, energy crashes and long-term feelings of exhaustion.

The addition of L-Tyrosine in this Stim formula helps replace the neurotransmitters that are impacted by caffeine.

Resulting in better working memory, quicker thinking even under pressure, a boost in multitasking performance, stress resistance and no crash.

NutriGenesis® B-Complex

Caffeine consumption causes a diuretic effect which accelerates the excretion of  Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine, P-5-P)Vitamin B9 (Folate)and Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin).

Including these B-Vitamins in this stimulant stack counterbalances this vitamin depletion caused by caffeine.

If you use Adderall for its stimulant boost, you may want to try this natural alternative instead. It’s safer, can be used whenever you need an energy boost, and it’s effective.

See my complete Performance Lab® Caffeine 2 Review or

Get and try Performance Lab® Caffeine 2

Performance Lab® Mind

If you had all the brain energy you needed and zero mental fatigue, it’s unlikely you’d be using Adderall.

best premade nootropic stack for mental clarityThat’s what this next natural nootropic stack helps you do.

Performance Lab® Mind helps increase brain energy and reduce mental fatigue. It does it by supporting the thousands of mitochondria you have in each one of your brain cells. And by boosting cerebral blood flow.

Mind supports neurogenesis by increasing the density of neurons and synapses. It increases the neuroplasticity required for learning, memory, and overall brain function.

And Performance Lab® Mind enhances focus, reaction-time, brain processing speed and memory by boosting brain energy, critical neurotransmitters and hormones depleted by stress.

Here’s how it works …

Citicoline 250 mg (Cognizin®)

Citicoline (CDP-Choline) provides the choline required for acetylcholine synthesis. The neurotransmitter involved in brain cell signaling needed for quick thinking, learning, memory and recall.

Once Citicoline crosses your blood-brain barrier it converts to uridine which is used in the synthesis of Phosphatidylcholine (PC).[xi]

PC is used to repair and rebuild brain cell membranes. Keeping membranes fluid for better signaling needed for attention, quicker reaction time, learning, memory, cognition and recall.

Citicoline as Cognizin® has been shown to increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is the fuel source generated in mitochondria and supplies energy to brain cells.

And the Cognizin® form of citicoline found in Performance Lab® Mind has been shown in research to boost brain cell membrane formation by 26% and brain energy by 13.6% in healthy adults.[xii]

Phosphatidylserine 100 mg (from Sunflower lecithin)

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid component of the membrane encasing nearly every one of your cells.

PS promotes nerve growth factor (NGF) for neurogenesis, neuroplasticity, and neuron repair and maintenance.

Studies show that phospholipid content including Phosphatidylserine begins to decline as early as age 20. And this decline becomes more pronounced as you age.[xiii]

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is arguably one of the most effective and important nootropics we have available today.

PS keeps our brain cells healthy. And has a reputation for improving alertness, attention, cognition, memory, recall and mood.

L-Tyrosine 250 mg

L-Tyrosine is used in your brain to produce dopamine. And the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and epinephrine (your “fight or flight” hormone). The same neurotransmitters released when using Adderall.

L-Tyrosine helps restore these catecholamines when you are sleep deprived. Or dealing with extreme stressors like heat or cold, intense business negotiations, exams, or war zones.[xiv]

L-Tyrosine enhances working memory and executive function in the prefrontal cortex. It helps with creative flow states, is fuel for inspiration, cognitive flexibility, and the kind of “convergent thinking” you do in multiple choice exams.

It’s a safe way to boost dopamine and norepinephrine while avoiding the negative side effects by doing the same with Adderall.

Maritime Pine Bark Extract 75 mg (95% proanthocyanidins)

Pine Bark Extract helps increase cerebral circulation for more blood flow. Providing nutrients and oxygen to energy-hungry brain cells.[xv]

Pine Bark Extract helps prevent decreases in dopamine and norepinephrine. And the glutathione (GSH) and GSH-disulphide reductase (GSSG-R) ratio. Neurotransmitter problems which contribute to hyperactivity and is treated with Adderall.[xvi]

Studies show that Pine Bark extract significantly boosts blood flow even in healthy young adults.[xvii] And has a remarkable effect on memory, focus, decision-making and mood.[xviii]

Performance Lab® Mind is a long-term solution for bringing your brain up-to-speed and keeping it there. So you’ll not be tempted to resort to a synthetic stimulant like Adderall.

And Mind is particularly effective when supported by a high-quality, bio-identical multivitamin like Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi.

And when you need that extra energy boost, take a capsule of Performance Lab® Caffeine 2.

See my complete Performance Lab® Mind Review or

Get and try Performance Lab® Mind and

Get and try Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi for men or women

Mind Lab Pro®

I’ve been using Mind Lab Pro® daily for the last 5 years and it’s still my favorite natural Adderall substitute.

OTC Adderall alternativeMind Lab Pro® was formulated to support all brain functions and pathways. 11 multi-tasking nootropics in this formula at clinically-proven dosages may be all you need.

This stack supports brain energy, neurotransmitters, blood flow, and brain waves. And provides neuroprotection while regenerating what’s been lost or damaged.

Just 2 capsules of this nootropic supplement every day for a month or two. And you may find you no longer need or want to use a short-acting stimulant like Adderall.

Earlier in this post I mentioned how I used only my nootropic stack including Mind Lab Pro® with no prescription stimulants for one year. And kept my Adult ADD symptoms under control.

The genius of this combination of ingredients and their synergy is how it works so well. And has become the industry standard others envy but have not yet matched.

These are the nootropic ingredients that make it work to improve brain health:

Citicoline 250 mg (Cognizin®) – see how Citicoline works in your brain in my list of ingredients above for Mind.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) 100 mg (Sharp-PS® Green) – see how Phosphatidylserine (PS) works in your brain in my list of ingredients above for Mind.

L-Tyrosine 175 mg (as N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine) – see how L-Tyrosine works in your brain in my list of ingredients above for Stim and Mind.

L-Theanine 100 mg (Suntheanine®) – see how L-Theanine works in your brain in my list of ingredients above for Stim

Maritime Pine Bark Extract 75 mg (95% proanthocyanidins) – see how Pine Bark Extract works in your brain in my list of ingredients above for Mind.

These next 6 ingredients are what makes Mind Lab Pro® the best ‘universal’ nootropic stack on the planet.

And why 2 capsules per day of this stack may be all you need as a natural Adderall alternative. But it does so much more …

Bacopa Monnieri 150 mg (standardized for 24% bacosides)

Bacopa Monnieri’s active bacosides improves brain cell signaling and helps restore damaged neurons and synapses.  And Bacopa acts as an anxiolytic by reducing free radicals and oxidative stress while reducing cortisol.[xix]

Studies show Bacopa Monnieri improves recall, attention, speed of information processing and memory.[xx] All while reducing anxiety. And its effects seem to keep working even after you stop using Bacopa.[xxi]

Lion’s Mane Mushroom 500 mg (organic and full spectrum)

Lion’s Mane Mushroom’s active compounds hericenones and erinacines boost Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) synthesis. Which stimulates neuron regeneration and neurite outgrowth.[xxii]

This increase in neuroplasticity helps boost mood, mental energy, increases depth perception and sense of smell. And improves decision-making ability and concentration.

Rhodiola Rosea 50 mg (standardized for 3% rosavins, 1% salidrosides)

Rhodiola Rosea promotes the proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells in the hippocampus.[xxiii] Restoring injured neurons helps fight cognitive decline and memory loss.

And Rhodiola influences levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and beta-endorphins which provides remarkable anti-depressant and anti-anxiety qualities.[xxiv]

Shown to be as good as many prescription pharmaceuticals in treating depression and anxiety.

Vitamin B6 2.5 mg (NutriGenesis®)

Vitamin B9 100 mcg (NutriGenesis®)

Vitamin B12 7.5 mcg (NutriGenesis®)

Mind Lab Pro® contains the bio-identical NutriGenesis® form of these critical B-Vitamins. This combo reduces homocysteine levels which ensures good brain blood flow and healthy brain chemistry.

Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 are required cofactors for neurotransmitter synthesis, and myelin formation and repair. And required for red blood cell formation, optimal brain energy metabolism, gene expression, and brain cell signaling.

Including these important B-Vitamins ensures the rest of the nootropic ingredients in Mind Lab Pro® work to provide their full benefit.

See my complete Mind Lab Pro® Review or

Get and try Mind Lab Pro®

The 3 Best Adderall Alternatives that are Not Prescription Medications in 2024

Adderall Alternatives - Best Over the Counter SubstitutesIf you’re aim is to find the best OTC Adderall alternative, the three nootropic stacks detailed in this post should help.

Near the beginning of this post I told you about my ‘experiment’. I’m Adult ADD and have been using Ritalin for the last 15 years.

My experiment was a one-year ‘holiday’ from Ritalin, and I used only Mind Lab Pro® with other natural nootropic supplements. My stack was tailored to my symptoms.

And was successful in keeping my ADD symptoms under control without the use of stimulants to improve cognitive function.

Many thousands in the Nootropics Expert® community have followed the same advice. And are successfully using natural nootropic supplements instead of prescription stimulants.

Both those with ADD or ADHD, and others who wish to avoid the negatives and side effects associated with prescription stimulants.

Choose either Mind Lab Pro® or Performance Lab® Mind (with a Multi). And use Performance Lab® Caffeine 2 when you want an extra, temporary energy boost.

Mind Lab Pro® and the Performance Lab® line of supplements stand behind their product. And offer a generous money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. Even after using their product for month.

If you are honestly looking for an Adderall alternative, I encourage you to try these supplements for better cognitive performance.

There’s no risk in trying natural OTC Adderall substitutes.

And you may have found exactly what you were looking for. Just like tens of thousands of others have from nearly every country on planet Earth.

Get Mind Lab Pro®

Get Performance Lab® Caffeine 2

Get Performance Lab® Mind

Get Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] Chen L.Y., Crum R.M., Strain E.C., Alexander G.C., Kaufmann C., Mojtabai R. “Prescriptions, nonmedical use, and emergency department visits involving prescription stimulants.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2016 Mar;77(3):e297-304 (source)

[ii] DeSantis A.D., Webb E.M., Noar S.M. “Illicit use of prescription ADHD medications on a college campus: a multimethodological approach.” Journal of American College Health 2008 Nov-Dec;57(3):315-24 (source)

[iii] Rasch B., Born J. “About Sleep’s Role in Memory” Physiological Reviews 2013 Apr; 93(2): 681–766 (source)

[iv] Eiden L.E., Weihe E. “VMAT2: a dynamic regulator of brain monoaminergic neuronal function interacting with drugs of abuse” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2011 Jan; 1216: 86–98. (source)

[v] Advokat C. “Update on Amphetamine Neurotoxicity and Its Relevance to the Treatment of ADHD” Attention Disorders 11 (1), 8-16 Jul 2007 (source)

[vi] Lakhan S.E., Kirchgessner A. “Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects” Brain and Behavior 2012 Sep; 2(5): 661–677. (source)

[vii] Underhill S.M., Hullihen P.D., Chen, J., Fenollar-Ferrer C., Rizzo M.A., Ingram S.L., Amara S.G. “Amphetamines signal through intracellular TAAR1 receptors coupled to Gα13 and GαS in discrete subcellular domains” Molecular Psychiatry 09 August 2019 (source)

[viii] Burchett S.A., Hicks T.P. “The mysterious trace amines: protean neuromodulators of synaptic transmission in mammalian brain.” Progress in Neurobiology. 2006 Aug;79(5-6):223-46 (source)

[ix] Gjorness T.E., Greene R.W. “Adenosine and Sleep” Current Neuropharmacology. 2009 Sep; 7(3): 238–245. (source)

[x] Yamada T., Terashima T., Wada K., Ueda S., Ito M., Okubo T., Juneja L.R., Yokogoshi H. “Theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, increases neurotransmission concentrations and neurotrophin mRNA levels in the brain during lactation.” Life Sciences. 2007 Sep 29;81(16):1247-55. (source)

[xi] Babb S.M., Wald L.L., Cohen B.M., Villafuerte R.A., Gruber S.A., Yurgelun-Todd D.A., Renshaw P.F. “Chronic citicoline increases phosphodiesters in the brains of healthy older subjects: an in vivo phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy study.” Psychopharmacology (Berlin). 2002 May;161(3):248-54. (source)

[xii] Silveri M.M., et. Al. “Cognizin® Citicoline Increases Brain Energy (ATP) by 14% and Speeds up Formation of Brain Membranes by 26% in Healthy Adults” Society for Neuroscience San Francisco, CA

[xiii] Kosicek M., Hecimovic S. “Phospholipids and Alzheimer’s Disease: Alterations, Mechanisms and Potential Biomarkers” International Journal of Molecular Science. 2013 Jan; 14(1): 1310–1322. (source)

[xiv] Hase A., Jung S.E., aan het Rot M. “Behavioral and cognitive effects of tyrosine intake in healthy human adults.” Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. 2015 Jun;133:1-6. (source)

[xv] Rohdewald P. “A review of the French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol), a herbal medication with a diverse clinical pharmacology.” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2002 Apr;40(4):158-68. (source)

[xvi] Dvoráková M., Jezová D., Blazícek P., Trebatická J., Skodácek I., Suba J., Iveta W., Rohdewald P., Duracková Z. “Urinary catecholamines in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): modulation by a polyphenolic extract from pine bark (pycnogenol).” Nutritional Neuroscience 2007 Jun-Aug; 10(3-4):151-7. (source)

[xvii] Nishioka K., Hidaka T., Nakamura S., Umemura T., Jitsuiki D., Soga J., Goto C., Chayama K., Yoshizumi M., Higashi Y. “Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract, augments endothelium-dependent vasodilation in humans.” Hypertension Research. 2007 Sep;30(9):775-80. (source)

[xviii] Belcaro G., Luzzi R., Dugall M., Ippolito E., Saggino A. “Pycnogenol® improves cognitive function, attention, mental performance and specific professional skills in healthy professionals aged 35-55.” Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2014 Dec;58(4):239-48. (source)

[xix] Benson S., Downey L.A., Stough C., Wetherell M., Zangara A., Scholey A. “An acute, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study of 320 mg and 640 mg doses of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on multitasking stress reactivity and mood.” Phytotherapy Research 2014 Apr;28(4):551-9. (source)

[xx] Calabrese N.D., Gregory W.L., Leo M., Kraemer D., Bone K., Oken B. “Effects of a Standardized Bacopa monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial” Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 2008 Jul; 14(6): 707–713. (source)

[xxi] Stough C., Lloyd J., Clarke J., Downey L.A., Hutchison C.W., Rodgers T., Nathan P.J. “The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects.” Psychopharmacology 2001 Aug;156(4):481-4. (source)

[xxii] Lai P.L., Naidu M., Sabaratnam V., Wong K.H., David R.P., Kuppusamy U.R., Abdullah N., Malek S.N. “Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54. (source)

[xxiii] Qin Y.J., Zeng Y.S., Zhou C.C., Li Y., Zhong Z.Q. “[Effects of Rhodiola rosea on level of 5-hydroxytryptamine, cell proliferation and differentiation, and number of neuron in cerebral hippocampus of rats with depression induced by chronic mild stress].” in Chinese Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2008 Dec;33(23):2842-6. (source)

[xxiv] Lishmanov Iu.B., Trifonova Zh.V., Tsibin A.N., Maslova L.V., Dement’eva L.A. “[Plasma beta-endorphin and stress hormones in stress and adaptation].” – in Russian Biull Eksp Biol Med. 1987 Apr;103(4):422-4. (source)

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Join The Discussion - 23 comments

June 13, 2022

Hi there, My 21 yr old son is currently taking Adderall was on 20mg x3 day and now scaled back to 20mg x2 day. He also takes Sam-e, a B complex, Magnesium, Vit D and DHA. For a few months now he’s been having a lot stomach pain and bloating/constipation, severe lack of energy, severe dehydration drinking gallons of water a day, shortness of breath a bad crash mostly in the early afternoons which is why he scaled back to 2x day on Adderall to see if it would help. Been to a couple different doctors and had blood work done, recently saw gatro dr as well. No one can really pinpoint what’s going on and his bloodwork was mostly normal except low end of normal TSH 1.3, low Vit D, high end alk phos, high end albumin. Any suggestions?

January 15, 2022

Hello David, Great article.
Please, could you clarify if Pine Bark increase or reduces Neurotransmitters?

In your other article specifically about pine Bark you mentioned that Pycnogenol helps reduce dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, however here in this article you say it helps increase them.

Could you please, clarify? Thank you as always.

    David Tomen
    January 16, 2022

    Marcio, it reduces these neurotransmitters. If I reversed it somewhere else it was a typo.

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