Depending on the severity of your ADHD symptoms, you may be able to use nootropics as an alternative to prescription stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse and their variations.
I experimented for a year by using nootropics in place of the 20 mg of Ritalin I had been using 3-times a day for several years. And for the most part, I was successful in taming my Adult ADD symptoms.
Table of Contents
Adult ADD Nootropic Stack
The ADD/ADHD stack I use includes:
- Mind Lab Pro
- Performance Lab® Energy – twice per day
- Alpha GPC – 300 mg 3-times per day
- ALCAR – 750 mg 1-time per day
- L-Tyrosine – 500 mg 3-times per day
- Sulbutiamine – 400 mg twice per day
- Aniracetam – 750 mg twice per day
- Vinpocetine – 10 mg 3-times per day
- Performance Lab® Omega-3 – 3 gelcaps per day
- 1 tablespoon unrefined Coconut Oil or MCT Oil– 3-times per day
- Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi – 4 caps per day
During my one-year stimulant holiday, the ingredients in Mind Lab Pro along with L-Tyrosine and ALCAR (included in Performance Lab Energy) kept my dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine levels high enough to maintain focus, motivation and improve my memory. Vinpocetine kept my brain blood flow at optimal levels. And Aniracetam and Sulbutiamine improved my mood.
But after a year I decided to go back to using 20 mg of Ritalin twice per day. Because my workload had me writing 10 hours per day. And maintaining working relationships with 2 or 3 clients at once.
By adding Ritalin back to my stack I was able to reduce the time it would take to complete a project from 3 days to 1 ½ days. Proof to me that my brain couldn’t make it with nootropics alone.
The beauty of continuing to use L-Tyrosine and ALCAR even after I started using Ritalin again was that I avoided the stimulant “crash” that is so common late afternoon when using stimulants. And I was able to reduce the original 20 mg Ritalin 3-times per day down to only twice per day.
And I have not experienced building up tolerance to Ritalin that is so common when using stimulants to treat ADD or ADHD.
Your situation may be different, or ADHD symptoms not as severe. Only you can decide if nootropics can replace ADHD meds. The stack I describe on this page is designed to be used with or without stimulant meds.
Whether you use this stack with meds or without, you’ll need to discover for yourself what dosages of each nootropic are ideal for you. Because the amounts that work for me may not work as well for you. You may need less NALT and/or ALCAR.
Experimenting is the key to success with nootropics. And knowing as much as you can about what’s going on in your brain that needs to be fixed. But after many years of recommending this ADHD nootropic stack to people just like us around the world, we know this works.
The pre-made nootropic stacks mentioned in this post include:
Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi
Prescription “Smart Drugs” vs. Nootropics for ADHD
This post is in response to many emails and questions I’ve been getting about how to treat Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) with nootropics.
So if you are dealing with ADHD, hopefully this post will help. Especially if you are using stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse, Focalin, or any of the other stimulant prescribed for ADD/ADHD. Or you are trying to deal with ADHD naturally by avoiding prescription stimulants.
This information can also help if you are a student or executive who uses prescription “smart drugs” like Adderall or Modafinil to boost productivity.
Here we’ll dig into the causes of ADHD or ADD in your brain. Symptoms associated with ADHD. And what you can do using nootropics, or nootropics stacked with stimulants to correct ADHD symptoms.
I’ll also include ways to potentiate the effectiveness of prescription stimulants with nootropics so they work better.
If you’ve never ‘officially’ been diagnosed with ADHD, but some of this resonates with you, you could be ADHD or ADD. And this may point you to some answers.
I’ve been ADD all my life. (ADD is ADHD without the hyperactivity). But it wasn’t until about 14 years ago, that a very wise psychiatrist identified what was going on. And why I had been struggling with focus and other problems with behavior. That no amount of self-help books on focus and management could ever correct.
Ritalin turned the lights on for me. And completely changed my life for the better. This was the seed that sprouted my interest in neuroscience and nootropics. And ultimately launching Nootropics Expert®
What is ADHD & ADD?
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are associated with attention and executive function in your brain.
Your prefrontal cortex directs behavior, thought and feeling which are all associated with working memory. These fundamental cognitive abilities that most “healthy” people take for granted, are what make up executive function.
This executive function and working memory give you the ability to:
- Regulate your attention
- Inhibit inappropriate behavior and thought
- Monitor your actions
- Plan and organize your future
If you can’t focus on the task at hand, blurt things out at inappropriate times, have little control over your emotions or actions, and can’t seem to stick to that careful set of goals you wrote down, you may be ADHD.
The Role of Norepinephrine and Dopamine in ADHD
Norepinephrine and dopamine are the primary neurotransmitters involved in ADHD because they play an essential role in attention and thinking.[i]
The “inattentive” type of ADHD is related to issues with the norepinephrine, and the “hyperactive and impulsive” type of ADHD is linked to dopamine dysfunction.
These two neurotransmitters work in concert to maintain alertness, increase focus, sustain thought, effort, and motivation. The only difference between the two is the presence of a hydroxyl group. And dopamine is the precursor to norepinephrine synthesis in your brain.[ii]
Much of what we read about ADHD focuses on dopamine’s function in your brain. But norepinephrine (NE) plays a critical role in activating your reaction to events. And how you respond to the event.[iii] NE is essential for collecting information coming in through your senses. And then modulating your brain’s response.
Any disruption in this NE system can result in ADHD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders and more.[iv]
For example, NE working with postsynaptic α2-adrenoceptors (α2-AR) in your brain play an essential role in helping you focus and eliminate distractions when you’re paying attention to something.[v]
This is just one example of what goes wrong in the ADHD brain. My point in bringing this all up is not to overwhelm you with neuroscience.
But to make clear that simply suggesting too much or too little of a single neurotransmitter like dopamine cannot explain the complexity of ADHD.
So using a nootropic like Mucuna Pruriens (L-Dopa) to amp up dopamine in your brain is often not enough to take care of ADHD symptoms. Or using Adderall with someone who has a problem with alpha2-receptor binding with norepinephrine may not get much benefit.
This is the reason that experimenting with various stimulants and/or nootropics is often the only way to find a long-term solution to keeping ADHD under control. And why some respond better to a drug like Ritalin and not as well to Adderall. Or vice versa.[vi]
And recent research shows serotonin and acetylcholine are involved too. Mostly the “hyperactivity” part of ADHD which includes movement, inattention, and impulsivity.[vii]
Smart Drugs Used to Treat ADHD
If you are truly and clinically ADHD or ADD, it is unlikely that optimizing your diet, getting plenty of sleep, using nootropics, and exercising regularly will get the symptoms of ADHD under control.
The most severe forms of ADHD often benefit from using prescription medication. Otherwise known as “smart drugs” in some circles, these meds are typically amphetamines or methylphenidate.
The amphetamine-class of ADHD medications includes Adderall (75% dextroamphetamine salts and 25% levoamphetamine salts), Dextroamphetamine, and Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine).
The methylphenidate-class of ADHD medications includes methylphenidate (Ritalin) and its variants like Concerta, and Focalin.
Adderall and Ritalin both work with dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. But through different mechanisms of action.
Ritalin is a pure uptake inhibitor of dopamine and norepinephrine without any other presynaptic activity.[viii] Adderall on the other hand, has additional presynaptic activity, releasing dopamine and norepinephrine from presynaptic neurons.
The idea for the last 50 years or so, has been if we could boost dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, ADHD symptoms would go away. As long as we’re taking the medication.
Why Prescription ADHD Meds Often Don’t Work
In an ideal world, taking one pill 2 or 3 times a day to treat ADHD would put your life back on track. And help you function like a ‘normal’ person.
But real-world results often don’t work out as well as theory. For several reasons. For example, what if there’s not enough dopamine or norepinephrine in your brain in the first place? Then stimulants will not work as well as planned because they haven’t the neurotransmitters in place to work with.
You could also have problems with not enough or damaged neuroreceptors. Natural aging processes can slow blood flow or inhibit the production of neurotransmitters. A lack of acetylcholine could prevent your neurotransmitters from doing what they were designed to do.
This is where nootropics can help save the day in treating the symptoms of ADHD.
Optimizing Dopamine & Norepinephrine
One of main culprits contributing to ADHD symptoms is a lack of dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) in your brain. Or your brain is not using the available DA and NE effectively.
Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin work to boost levels of these two critical neurotransmitters.
Production of dopamine and norepinephrine in your body follows this metabolic pathway:
Phenylalanine → Tyrosine → L-DOPA → Dopamine → Norepinephrine
Dopamine is converted to norepinephrine by the enzyme dopamine β-monooxygenase, with O2 and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) as cofactors.
Norepinephrine can be further converted into epinephrine by the enzyme phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase with SAM-e as cofactor.
Nootropics to boost dopamine and norepinephrine include:
- L-Tyrosine – L-Tyrosine is the precursor to the synthesis of dopamine in your brain. L-Tyrosine enhances working memory, executive function, creative flow states, reduces stress, improves mood and is anti-anxiety.
Suggested dosage of L-Tyrosine or NALT for ADHD is 350- 500 mg twice per day. I successfully stack 500 mg of NALT or L-Tyrosine 3-times per day. Once each time I dose with Ritalin, and a last dose mid-afternoon to prevent a stimulant crash later in the day.
- Mucuna Pruriens (L-Dopa) – Mucuna works as an antioxidant and heavy metal chelator, improves memory & cognition, reduces depression and boosts libido.
L-Dopa is also the direct precursor to dopamine. Suggested dosage of Mucuna Pruriens is 250 – 500 mg per day. But if you’re just starting out with nootropics, I highly recommend using L-Tyrosine or NALT instead of Mucuna Pruriens. Because Mucuna can be more difficult to dose since it directly stimulates the production of dopamine. L-Tyrosine and NALT are more ‘forgiving’ when it comes to dosage.
- N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) – NAC is an amino acid that regulates the amount of glutamate and dopamine in your brain.
NAC can be used to treat the symptoms of ADHD. And even helps eliminate some of the negative side effects associated with prescription ADHD stimulants. Suggested dosage of NAC is 600 mg 3-times per day.
- NADH – NADH helps increase alertness, clarity, focus, memory and enhances mood.
NADH also helps stimulate the production of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in your brain. Suggested dosage of NADH is 10 mg per day.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) – PS can help improve alertness, attention, cognition, memory, recall and mood, and lower anxiety. All issues associated with ADHD.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid component of the membrane encasing every one of your brain cells. PS helps maintain the fluidity and permeability of brain cells. Improving the flow of dopamine and acetylcholine. Suggested dosage of PS is 100 mg 3-times per day.
- Pine Bark Extract – 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 in ADHD.
Pine Bark extract helps boost blood flow in the brain by increasing nitric oxide which helps dilate blood vessels. And it helps with oxidative stress, membrane damage, DNA damage, inflammation, and glycation.
I’ve found one of the most potent forms of Pine Bark extract comes in both Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® Mind.
A word of caution here in boosting the catecholamines dopamine and norepinephrine. Too much of either is not a good thing. In fact, excess levels of either will throw your neurotransmitter levels out of balance. And can cause anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks.
The “H” in ADHD stands for hyperactivity. Boosting levels of dopamine and norepinephrine can help balance out hyperactivity. And help calm and focus your mind. But often simply boosting or balancing these neurotransmitters is not enough.
Recent studies show that serotonin and dopamine interaction also play a role in ADHD.[ix] Serotonin is involved in the uptake, synthesis and breakdown of dopamine in your brain. Problems with serotonin seem to contribute to behavior and impulse control.
Much more research needs to be done in this area of ADHD. But we can help control and balance serotonin with nootropics.
- 5-HTP – This amino acid is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan. And 5-HTP is the immediate precursor to serotonin in your brain.
5-HTP can help relieve anxiety and depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, migraines and likely the hyperactivity, depression and anxiety associated with ADHD. Suggested dosage of 5-HTP is 50 mg up to 3-times per day. Please see our dosage notes and warnings however on supplementing with 5-HTP.
- Ginseng – Ginseng helps calm anxiety, and boost attention, concentration and memory. Ginseng provides neuro-protective effects on the dopaminergic-pathway which can help with ADHD. And ginseng is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).
Suggested dosage of Ginseng is 100 – 400 mg per day.
- L-Theanine – L-Theanine commonly found in green tea helps boost alpha and theta brain waves, is anti-anxiety, boosts cognition and memory and reduces insomnia.
L-Theanine also helps boost GABA, serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain. Suggested dosage of L-Theanine is 250 – 500 mg per day.
- Rhodiola Rosea – Rhodiola Rosea helps improve alertness, energy, memory and mood, is anti-anxiety and antidepressant, reduces fatigue and boosts memory and concentration.
Rhodiola influences serotonin and norepinephrine levels in your brain. Suggested dosage of Rhodiola Rosea extract is 150 – 200 mg per day.
- SAM-e – SAM-e helps in the process of cell division and repair. And the generation of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin.
Suggested dosage of SAM-e is 300 mg per day.
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – Vitamin B6 helps your brain make serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin. Suggested dosage of B6 is up to 100 mg per day.
- Vitamin B8 (Inositol) – Inositol as a nootropic can boost serotonin levels which results in feelings of calm, heightened mental energy, and easy thought flow.
Suggested dosage of Inositol is from 500 – 3,000 mg per day.
- Vitamin B9 (Folate) – Folate (NOT folic acid) as a nootropic helps your brain make dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Suggested dosage of Folate is 400 mcg per day.
B-Vitamins are Critical in Controlling ADHD
Take note that several of the B-Vitamin group are involved in the production of the neurotransmitters involved in ADHD. I recommend adding a good B-Vitamin Complex well above the usual RDA levels that include folate (not folic acid) and methylcobalamin (not cobalamin) to your stack. Both in a pure nootropic stack as well as when stacking with any of the ADHD prescription stimulants.
But it’s not only the B-Vitamins that are required for a healthy, fully functioning brain. We also need each of the 13 vitamins and 13 minerals needed for everything from blood flow, neurotransmitter synthesis and release, brain signaling, and neuroprotection.
I’ve found the easiest way to make sure my ADD brain gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs every day is to also use a multivitamin/mineral supplement.
The best I’ve found so far is a new multivitamin called Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi. It’s better than the “raw-food” multi I’ve been using for years. And makes a difference I can actually feel.
But please note that this multi is in addition to a B-Vitamin Complex because the ADHD brain needs more of these critical nutrients than what is normally in any good multivitamin.
The Role of Acetylcholine in ADHD
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center discovered that there are three types of ADHD.
We’ve already covered the “inattentive” type that is related to issues with the norepinephrine transporter gene. And the link to the dopamine transporter gene in the “hyperactive and impulsive” type.
But the research team now report that a variation in the choline transporter gene is associated with a “combined” type of ADHD. Symptoms include both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.
Choline is required to synthesize acetylcholine (ACh) which is needed for memory, motor-control, focus, learning, concentration, and cognition.
If you have the “combined” type of ADHD it’s likely due to a mutation in this choline transporter gene variation.
Nootropics to boost acetylcholine include:
- ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine) – ALCAR donates a methyl group in the presence of Coenzyme-A for the synthesis of acetylcholine. And it’s also a shuttle transport for fatty acids through brain cell membranes. It shuttles fatty acids into mitochondria for ATP synthesis, and shuttles toxic byproducts out.
Research from the Linus Pauling Institute shows ALCAR will restore mitochondrial function, replenish age-related changes to mitochondrial structure, and replenishes acetylcholine levels to your brain and body.
And other studies show that ALCAR stimulates nerve growth factor. Helping support survival and growth of neurons. Which is particularly important for the ADHD brain and especially when using prescription stimulants that may be tough on neurons.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (R-LA) – Alpha Lipoic Acid increases acetylcholine production by activation of choline acetyltransferase and increases glucose uptake. This process supplies more Acetyl-CoA for the production of acetylcholine.
Alpha Lipoic Acid enhances insulin-stimulated glucose transport and metabolism for better brain cell performance. And R-Lipoic Acid provides strong antioxidant support because it helps regenerate and recycle existing antioxidants in your brain including Vitamins C & E, glutathione, and CoQ10.
I’ve since switched the ALCAR supplement in my ADD stack to Performance Lab® Energy because this pre-formulated energy stack contains my preferred dose of ALCAR. But note that I also take another 750 mg of ALCAR with my NALT dose late afternoon to prevent a stimulant crash.
Performance Lab® Energy also contains Alpha Lipoic Acid which helps my ADD brain produce acetylcholine. And has helped reverse the ‘insulin resistance’ my doctor diagnosed me with a year ago.
- CDP-Choline (Citicoline) – Citicoline helps synthesize phosphatidylcholine (PC), a major phospholipid found in brain cell membranes. And provides choline for the synthesis of acetylcholine while providing antioxidant activity.
The CDP-Choline (Citicoline) in my ADD stack is supplied by Mind Lab Pro® which is the base of my nootropic stack.
But a suitable alternative to MLP is the new Performance Lab® Mind which contains the branded form of citicoline called Cognizin®.
Performance Lab® Mind and Mind Lab Pro® also contain L-Tyrosine, Phosphatidylserine (PS), and Maritime Pine Bark extract.
Repairing Neuroreceptors Needed to Control ADHD
One of the issues with neurotransmitters and ADHD are damaged or non-existent receptors. Dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin have less receptors to bind to for cognition and mood control.
Once again, nootropics come to the rescue in helping control ADHD. You can add one of these nootropics to your stack to help boost receptor health.
- Ashwagandha – This adaptogen, Ashwagandha helps reduce anxiety and depression. And helps reconstruct axons, dendrites and synapses involved in neurotransmitter signaling in your brain.
Suggested dosage of Ashwagandha extract is 250 – 500 mg per day.
- Bacopa Monnieri – Bacopa helps boost memory and cognition, improves mood, and reduces stress. This adaptogen affects brain levels of acetylcholine needed to help neurotransmitter signaling.
And the two active components of Bacopa Monnieri called bacosides A and B not only improves signaling of electrical impulses between neurons in your brain. Bacosides also help rebuild damaged neurons. Suggested dosage of Bacopa is up to 450 mg per day.
- Lion’s Mane – Lion’s Mane Mushroom is known for stimulating Nerve Growth Factor, improving cognition and memory, and relieving depression.
Lion’s Mane stimulates the repair and creation of neurons in your brain. Neurons needed for dopamine and norepinephrine to control ADHD. Suggested dosage of Lion’s Mane Mushroom starts at 500 mg per day. Note: that there’s an effective 500 mg dose of Lion’s Mane full-spectrum fruiting body in each dose of Mind Lab Pro®
- Noopept – Noopept helps boost cognition, memory, learning, perception, logical thinking and mood. Noopept increases Nerve Growth Factor, and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) critical for neuroplasticity and Long-Term Potentiation critical for long-term memory.
Noopept also prevents the release of excess glutamate in your brain. Providing potent neuroprotection for neurons and reducing damage. Suggested dosage of Noopept is 10 – 30 mg per day.
Please note that I haven’t linked through to supporting clinical studies for each of the nootropics I listed above. But you can click through to my full review of each nootropic for extensive research supporting each supplement.
Nootropics for Kids
ADHD and ADD is most often diagnosed in children. The latest statistics (2011) from the CDC in the USA shows about 11% of children 4 – 17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed ADHD.[x] And that’s just for the USA.
Although ADHD is usually first diagnosed in children, it often lasts into adulthood. I sometime wonder how my life would have been different if I had been declared ADD when I was a kid.
But it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that the American Psychiatric Association formally recognized ADHD as a mental disorder. I wasn’t declared Adult ADD until much later.
The thing is many parents are wary about putting their children on powerful, prescription ADHD meds. Kids’ brains continue to develop until your early 20’s. So is it a problem messing with brain chemistry at such a young age? Only time will tell and if the benefits outweigh any potential costs.
Hence the reason why parents are looking for ‘natural’ alternatives like nootropics to treat ADHD in children. But are nootropic supplements any safer than prescription stimulants?
Common sense tells me that using L-Tyrosine could be safer than Ritalin for boosting dopamine. And Rhodiola Rosea could be safer than stimulants or antidepressants for taming hyperactivity.
But many children with ADHD, natural supplements may not be enough. I’m not a doctor, and don’t even play one on TV. I’m an ordinary biohacker who has learned as much as I can to help myself. And fix my own cognitive issues. Including Adult ADD.
So I highly recommend you find and work with an open-minded psychiatrist with your child. You may be pleasantly surprised to find you may be able to reduce or eliminate prescription ADHD meds altogether. And maybe not. But the long-term health of your child could be worth the time investment to find out.
I’ve been wanting to write this post since I started Nootropics Expert®. If you are ADHD or ADD, I hope you found this useful. And I’d appreciate your feedback, and share your experience with treating ADHD with nootropics in the comments section of this post below.
Please share this post with anyone you think would benefit. Including discussions about nootropics for ADHD on reddit or Longecity.
One final note. Neurotransmitter balance is key to taming ADHD. I strongly caution you to take it slow if you’re just starting out with nootropics. Carefully read each of the extended articles in the List of Nootropics you are considering trying.
You need to be careful about side effects, prescription drug interactions, dosages and how your body reacts to each supplement.
But I’m confident that with careful planning and a long-term commitment, you can be as successful as I have been in living and thriving with ADHD or ADD.
[i] Arnsten A.F., Li B.M. “Neurobiology of executive functions: catecholamine influences on prefrontal cortical functions.” Biological Psychiatry. 2005 Jun 1;57(11):1377-84. (source)
[ii] Pliszka S.R., McCracken J.T., Maas J.W. “Catecholamines in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: current perspectives.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 1996 Mar;35(3):264-72. (source)
[iii] Aston-Jones G., Rajkowski J., Cohen J. “Role of locus coeruleus in attention and behavioral flexibility.” Biological Psychiatry. 1999 Nov 1;46(9):1309-20. (source)
[iv] Berridge C.W., Waterhouse B.D., “The locus coeruleus–noradrenergic system: modulation of behavioral state and state-dependent cognitive processes” Brain Research Reviews Volume 42, Issue 1, April 2003, Pages 33–84 (source)
[v] Franowicz J.S., Kessler L.E., Borja C.M., Kobilka B.K., Limbird L.E., Arnsten A.F. “Mutation of the alpha2A-adrenoceptor impairs working memory performance and annuls cognitive enhancement by guanfacine.” Journal of Neuroscience. 2002 Oct 1;22(19):8771-7. (source)
[vi] Zametkin A.J., Karoum F., Linnoila M., Rapoport J.L., Brown G.L., Chuang L.W., Wyatt R.J. “Stimulants, urinary catecholamines, and indoleamines in hyperactivity. A comparison of methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine.” Archives of General Psychiatry. 1985 Mar;42(3):251-5. (source)
[vii] Oades R.D. “Role of the serotonin system in ADHD: treatment implications.” Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. 2007 Oct;7(10):1357-74. (source)
[viii] Wilens T.E. “Effects of methylphenidate on the catecholaminergic system in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.” Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2008 Jun;28(3 Suppl 2):S46-53 (source)
[ix] Oades R.D. “Dopamine-serotonin interactions in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).” Progress in Brain Research. 2008;172:543-65 (source)
[x] “Key Findings: Trends in the Parent-Report of Health Care Provider-Diagnosis and Medication Treatment for ADHD: United States, 2003—2011” Centers for Disease and Prevention cdc.gov (source)
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Sean Hoffmann says
Thank you for your content and your dedication.
I have ADHD and I use Ritalin 10mg 2/3 times a day, since I started taking Ritalin when it starts to wear off I get very anxious, do you recommends a stack to administer along with the Ritalin?
David Tomen says
Sean, that’s one of the ways the stack I describe above supports stimulant use. You use a 4rd dose later in the afternoon to prevent the Ritalin crash.
Thanks for the fruitful article.
I am diagnosed by adhd I am consistent with L-tyrosine and NAC since long time but only relatively higher doses achieved any effect (3 grams of Tyrosine and 2 tablets of mucuna)
-I Recently started ritalin on low doses which was extremely effective in the first few weeks then very quick tolerance kicked in.
– I kept increasing the dose under doctor supervision i reached 40mg a day and felt that the tolerance was going to happen forever.
-So switched back to low doses of 10mg a day and cycling throughout the week but with horrible withdrawal symptoms during the off days.
Alpha GPC gave me agitation and Alcar made me sleepy! unfortunately
Any advise on how can i prevent the ritalin tolerance to achieve consistent performance?
David Tomen says
Ahmed, I prevented Ritalin tolerance by using L-Tyrosine, a BioActive B-Complex and NAC. You’ll need to figure out what dose of L-Tyrosine works best for you however.
Best to use anything that increases neurogenesis as well for brain repair. Search Nootropics Expert for “BDNF” and see what turns up.
I’ve been on dexamphetamine for 3 years for chronic fatigue syndrome, high dose and finding it has become less effective, which nootropics do you recommend?
David Tomen says
Foxi, the supplements you’ll find in the yellow box near the top of this article above.
Thank you so much for all your research about nootropics! I find it very interesting to read about how our brain works and about the ‘fuel’ it needs in order to function properly.
My question: Which nootropics that can help with ADD and/or anxiety are safe to take with 150mg Wellbutrin? (and what dosage?)
I’ve been using Wellbutrin for a few years now and although it helps with my mood, it doesn’t really seem to do much for my ADD (and certainly not for my anxiety) I’d love to use something that makes my head ‘less full’ (don’t know how to say it in proper English).
I’ve also used Citalopram in the past but – although it worked great for my mood and anxiety – I started to feel less emotions and felt like a zombie.
Thank you for your help!
I meant 150 mg Wellbutrin XR
David Tomen says
The stack I detail in the article above should support the use of Wellbutrin. It is summarized in the yellow box near the top of the article.
I would love to start taking the mind lab pro, but lions mane gives me headaches. Is there something else you would suggest?
Currently, I am taking 15mg XR Dexedrine a day for my Combined Type ADHD.
I also take:
L-Tyrosine 500 mg twice a day
NAC 500 mg once a day
L-Theanine (150 mg) once a day
500 mg of Holy Basil at night to sleep and for stress
Is there anything else you would suggest I take? I also would like to add I suffered from substance abuse (binge using) for 10 years. Currently 1 year and 4 months sober so I am trying to encourage my brain to heal from the damage and stimulant use.
Thanks so much, I’m very happy I stumbled across your website.
I look forward to hearing from you.
David Tomen says
You are on the right track. You just need to get your timing right which you have done with L-Tyrosine. NAC and L-Theanine should be used 3-times per day. And to mimic most of the effects of Mind Lab Pro add: CDP-Choline 300 mg twice per day and ALCAR 500 mg twice per day with daily use of a bioactive multi like this one: https://bit.ly/347dm5M
I’m so fortunate to have happened to come across your article in my very first search about using Ritalin with nootropics! This article was so enlightening for a newbie!
Ironically, my current sense of overwhelm and lack of motivation (despite 20 mg Ritalin 3x/day) is leaving me unsure where to start using the info you shared about your ADD stack.
Do you suggest adding one supplement at a time from this stack, or go all in and purchase and start them all? Having a hard time wrapping my brain around taking this many supplements but I’m willing to try!
David Tomen says
Amy, if you have never used any of the supplements I detail in the article above then I suggest starting them one-at-a-time. Give each supplement a day or two to see how you react to it. If all is good then add the next one,
The most basic ADHD stack while using stimulants include Mind Lab Pro, L-Tyrosine, either CDP-Choline or Alpha GPC, ALCAR, DHA (Omega-3) and a bioactive multivitamin.
If you could use more help putting the ideal stack for you together then schedule a consultation with me.
Great post – thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
I’m on vyvanse, 60mg split into 3x20mg per day.
It works great, however, my issue is the crash when it wears off – I’m therefore looking for a stack to take in the evening when it wears off without taking more vyvanse.
As you probably know with the crash it’s pretty severe and 500mg of l-tyrosine doesn’t seem to help, can I take 1500mg of l-tyrosine in one dose in the evening to level me out? Would you suggest combining this with anything else? ($ budget low)
David Tomen says
Jack, a better idea and I think it’ll work better for you is: 500 mg L-Tyrosine 3-times per day, Alpha GPC 300 mg 3-times per day and ALCAR 500 mg 2 or 3-times per day. So, you are using this stack morning, noon and around 4 PM. That should help you avoid the crash. It works for me and 10’s of thousands of others. I suggest you try it.
How long have you been on that prescription?
I think it is too low of a dosage 20mg is very low and you can get tired (crash) pretty easily when your body has gotten used to it, usually after a week or so.
I take 60mg in the morning and then 30mg around noon. When it was 30 in the beginning before I went up to 50 I always crashed so fast and then added that second dose in the noon when I had been on 50 for a while and felt it didn’t last all day like it claims (felt ADHD symptoms more in the afternoon, couldn’t sleep because the drugs were not in my system anymore and that crash happening).
So sorry about a along answer but I would recommend to you to start maybe 50 and then 20? Or 40 and then 20, but discuss with your doctor about it. Deffo 20 is too low and don’t have to take it 3x a day. It should tell you something there because that pill is only supposed to be taken 1x a day and last the whole day, if not the dosage is too low (sometimes too high when u have a crash too soon, but doubtful in this case)
This is the best article about ADHD that I ever seen. Thank you for the hard work!
So if the human has ADHD and bad dopamine production, the only true way to fix it is ADHD medication and nootropics.
But people were constantly trying to convince me otherwise “Allegedly, sports will help solve the problem.”. No, sport totally not working.
David Tomen says
Max, those of us with ADHD or ADD seem to have problems with the way our brain uses dopamine. Stimulants seem to help compensate for this issue.
But the problem is largely due to dopamine and norepinephrine. It seems if we ‘flood’ our brain with more dopamine by using L-Tyrosine – this works as well. Often better than just a stimulate like Ritalin or Adderall.
The stimulants seem to work better when supported with L-Tyrosine to boost dopamine and norepinephrine. And Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline paired with ALCAR to increase acetylcholine for better brain cell signalizing.
Can you advise me please?
NAC is inhibitory substance, by reducing Glutamate/NMDA activity decreases dopamine release?
NAC to protect my dopamine neurons NEED TO BE stacked directly with Ritalin right?
The problem is every time I take NAC with MPH. I don’t feel it.
David Tomen says
Michael, NAC doesn’t ‘reduce it’ it modulates it. And you are unlikely to “feel” NAC. But is is restoring any dopamine receptors that are dysfunctional that may have been caused by using Ritalin. And it’ll likely prevent you from getting sick this winter while everyone else has a cold or the flu.
NAC needs to be used morning, noon and late afternoon for full benefit.
I’m SO THANKFUL I found you after going on a deep dive on the topic of Nootropics recently. This article is such an INCREDIBLE resource! Thank you 🙂
[edited for length]
David Tomen says
Ross, thanks but you need to keep your questions down to 2 or 3 sentences. I haven’t the time to read any more than that.
Thank you for your useful guidance. Many people with ADHD live either in countries where ADHD is not a recognised neurodivergence or where access to medical services for it is limited (financially or professionally). In short, pharmacological support is not available in the same way as in the USA. So a guide to completely non-pharmaceutical approaches to supplementation, with perhaps a nod to additional measures such as exercise, would be helpful to a much greater range of people with ADHD than, perhaps, your existing advice is aimed at.
David Tomen says
I clearly state in the above article that the nootropic supplements I suggest on this page can help ADD or ADHD with or without prescription stimulants.
Mr Tomen . For ADHD in adult , how do you recommend taking a Bcomplex plus multivitamins ? What dosages, how many times per day. My question comes because I don’t know how cost-effective is having both at the same time or separated.
David Tomen says
Robert, using both a BioActive B-Complex with a high quality BioActive Multi is best if you are older. Because those over 55 – 60 yr. do not digest and absorb these nutrients as well as someone who is younger.
The B-Complex I get from Life Extension is usually on sale for less than $10 per day (https://bit.ly/3RGUWzv). I use one cap in the morning and another cap at noon. And I also use 2 caps in the morning and 2 caps at noon of the Performance Lab Multi for men (https://bit.ly/3l9OalB) and it works great for me.
Hi, I’m so glad to have found your website!!! I’ve been trying a few nootropics myself for various issues and I’m now thinking this is the direction I need to take for my 8 year old sons issues. He is bright and happy but tends to lean towards anxiety and has more of the impulsiveness and inattention issues around ADHD – we’ve been told it’s not likely we would even get a diagnosis as he’s not ‘severe’ enough but he is hard to have in the classroom at times as he does have to constantly move and interact and finds it hard to control himself physically. He’s a people pleaser and wants to do what he’s asked but often just can’t fight his compulsion to do something even though he’s been asked to/asked not to. He’s inattentive but very bright and doesn’t have any of the learning difficulties often associated with ADHD. What would be some good nootropics to start him on to begin with?
David Tomen says
First, I highly recommend you get another doctors opinion. Because this is not fair to your son.
I suggest first checking with his doctor. And see if you can try something like Mind Lab Pro because it contains the basic ingredients I recommend in my full ADHD stack. But start with one capsule and see how it works. The ingredients are all natural and non-toxic but at 8 he still has many years of brain development which you do not want to interrupt. So take it easy on the supplement doses.
Can you take Sam-E with vyvanse?
David Tomen says
Gabby, if it works for you then yes you take take them together.
Thank you for sharing this information. Managing my ADHD has been a struggle and I really appreciate this resource.
I am prescribed Adderall IR twice a day. I am curious about when to take the supplements in the yellow box. I know you said to take L tyrosine with the medication but what about ALCAR and the rest of the stack?
David Tomen says
Aaron, honestly, use as much as you can afford. But the bare minimum to support the use of Adderall and tame ADHD symptoms is 500 mg L-Tyrosine 3-times per day, 300 mg CDP-Choline twice per day, 500 mg ALCAR twice per day, and high quality multi like I use, 1,000 mg DHA per day, and Mind Lab Pro daily for brain cell repair. The last one is important because Adderall can be brutal the health of dopamine neurons, receptors, transporters and synapses. Ingredients in MLP help prevent and repair that damage long-term.
I have been taking the following stack the past three weeks but still have difficulty focusing. Could you recommend any additions?
6 AM – Mind Lab Pro – 1 Serving, Performance Lab Energy -1 Serving, DHA 1200 MG
12 PM – Mind Lab Pro – 1 Serving, Performance Lab Energy -1 Serving, DHA 1200 MG
David Tomen says
David, start by doubling your dose of Mind Lab Pro and Performance Lab Energy.
And if that doesn’t work schedule a consultation with me.
Hi David! Thank you, I try to recommend your blog to as many people as I can, over 20 people so far :).
I changed my life because of YOU, I also have been diagnosed with ADHD because of you! Thank you for all your wisdom Sir.
I’read that people with ADHD also have less gray matter in prefrontal cortex, and worse blood flow to decision making parts of the brain.
I was taking vinpocetine and Pycnogenol before Ritalin but It made my blood pressure 90/50.
Should I try once again? Methylphenidate did a pretty good job, I have 130/85 now.
Jumping to the gray matter topic, everything which affect neurogenesis will make my prefrontal cortex bigger right?
David Tomen says
Sandra, Vinpocetine and Pine Bark Extract will support the use of Ritalin for a variety of reasons which I will not detail here.
I think I came across some studies where long-term use of Ritalin may increase gray matter. But you are correct that anything that boosts Nerve Growth Factor and BDNF should help as well.
This article is very helpful. I have diagnosed ADD 20 years ago. I had Ritalin for a while back then and stopped as it was very expensive.
Then I forgot about it and carried on with my life. Just recently i realized that I was never well. I carried ADD growing up without realizing it. Now it explained everything. My emotional problem, anxiety, and low self-esteem, etc. all trace back to ADD.
I am taking DMAE at the moment and it makes me feel much better. I also had alpha-gpc before. But it just does not seem to change much as DMAE does.
Can I take alpha-gpc with DMAE? But I am also worried that alpha-GPC might increase the risk of stroke in 10 years.
(see here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8613599/)
I had thyroid surgery 6 years ago. my right side thyroid had been removed (most of it). Do these nootropics have an impact on my thyroid?
and also, the stack you use seems a lot….. do you ever worry about your kidney?
I am taking：
and it already worries me……
David Tomen says
Yida, the key is get your labs done every six months or so and keep an eye on your liver and kidney health. I’ve been using supplements several times per day for over 14 years without a problem. But I do keep an eye on my labs just to make sure.
David Tomen says
Yida, use CDP-Choline instead of Alpha GPC and you’ll be safe. DMAE needs the support of CDP-Choline and ALCAR.
For ADHD and thyroid problems you need L-Tyrosine. Because L-Tyrosine with iodine makes the thyroid hormones T4 and T3. Along with selenium, Vitamin C and magnesium. And L-Tyrosine helps make dopamine and norepinephrine which are the problem neurotransmitter systems in ADHD.
I have ADHD too and take Ritalin. I have mood swings, anxiety (RSD) and listlessness with my adhd. I found out that Lithium Orotate 5mg stopp my mood swings well. But it makes me thirsty and some-times a bit to calm.
Can i cut the 5mg pills into a half ? (I would fill it in empty capluses if needed)
Then i think about to add to Ritalin and LO ALCAR, CDP-Choline and maybe Rhodiola Rosea. Do you think this will be okay? Or is this to much of nootropics?
Or have you maybe another advise?
David Tomen says
Frederik, you can use half the dose of Lithium Orotate and see if that works for you.
For Ritalin support you need ALCAR, CDP-Choline, L-Tyrosine, a high quality multivitamin, and 1,000 mg DHA per day. Rhodiola Rosea would be a good addition as well.
I have been trying out L-tyrosine for the past week and have noticed an improvement in my concentration for the first 3 days – a massive improvement, my mind was quiet! (1 x 500mg/day)
For the next 3 it didn’t seem to have any effect (2 x 500mg/day) – I believe that could have been because of my period and today I had a day off.
What’s the maximum dosage I can take? Apologies if you’ve written it already, I haven’t seen it.
I’ll start again on Monday. I have inattentive ADHD.
Also, my daughter, 13, is also diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, what would be the right dosage of L-tyrosine for her to begin with?
David Tomen says
Claire, your hormones definitely had an effect on how L-Tyrosine AND dopamine work in your brain. Do not judge the success you had while you are on your period. 500 mg 3-times per day works for most people. You really do not want to go any higher than that.
Your daughter might try half of that dose and see how she does with it.