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Foods That Can Increase Your Testosterone

Foods That Can Increase Your Testosterone

Testosterone is a sex hormone produced by males (and in smaller amounts in females) that influences sexual function, muscular mass and fertility. The amount of testosterone in a person’s body decreases with age, but medical problems, lifestyle choices, and other factors can alter how much of this hormone is present in the body.

It takes more than the occasional workout to keep your body healthy and your testosterone balanced. Your doctor may recommend more exercise, testosterone replacement therapy, or most likely, a change in diet, to assist your body maintain a healthy balance and combat low testosterone. Keep reading for a list of testosterone boosting foods. 

Key Takeaways: Testosterone Levels and Diet

  • Testosterone has many health benefits, such as lowering risks of certain diseases and boosting your sex drive and bone and muscle health.
  • Testosterone-boosting foods are often high in zinc and magnesium.
  • You can boost your testosterone levels naturally by reducing alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, and maintaining a balanced diet.
  • You can also boost your t levels by taking testosterone replacement therapy.
  • Certain foods, like processed foods, will lower your testosterone levels.

Testosterone Boosting Foods

Here are the foods that can boost testosterone levels into your body:

  • Seafood
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Whole grain products
  • Certain nuts
  • Ginger
  • Olive oil
  • Onions and garlic

01: Seafood

Certain seafood, like oysters, are aphrodisiacs high in zinc and contain more zinc per serving than other foods. Zinc is important for boosting your sex drive, boosting sperm count, and maintaining a healthy amount of dopamine.

Oysters are also rich in protein, vitamin B12, selenium, magnesium, and D-aspartic acid and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can improve heart health and prevent heart diseases, which can better blood flow and help treat erectile dysfunction [1].

Like oysters, shrimps are also rich in zinc; they’re also rich in vitamin D, iodine, and iron. According to researchers, men with more vitamin D in their bodies also have more testosterone. Much more, shrimp is low in fat, making it the ideal testosterone-boosting seafood for those watching their weight.

Salmon and tuna, two commonly eaten fish, are other seafood that will boost your testosterone. Naturally-caught salmon has 75% more vitamin D than their manufactured counterparts. Tuna is a great source of vitamin D and is one of the most budget-friendly seafood you can buy for your testosterone boost.

foods that increase testosterone Effects of Seafood on Testosterone in Rats
The groups consuming higher doses of Zinc saw the greatest increase in testosterone
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6868249/

02: Leafy Vegetables

Certain types of vegetables can boost your testosterone- leafy vegetables.

One vegetable is spinach— Popeye’s favorite vegetable, but why does he love it so much? One reason could be spinach being a natural source of magnesium, which boosts testosterone. Spinach is also high in vitamin B6 and iron. Not only that, but spinach can also help boost your immune system and muscle cells.

Another leafy green that can boost your testosterone is kale. 

Kale has become popular in recent years. One reason is that it’s high in all sorts of vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A and C. Vitamin A helps boost your testosterone, while vitamin C helps produce testosterone.

03: Whole Grain Products

As a healthier alternative to white bread, whole grain products have one added interesting benefit: they boost testosterone. Whole grain products are high in fiber, making you feel fuller while not putting on any more weight. If you gain too much weight, your testosterone will lower.

Some whole grain products you can eat are brown rice, oats, whole-wheat, fortified cereals, and bread. These products are good sources of magnesium. 

04: Certain Nuts

Not all nuts are equal in boosting testosterone. So, which nuts are the kinds that will increase your testosterone levels?

The Brazil nut has a high amount of selenium. Selenium is great for activating genes and pathways enhancing testosterone production [2]. It’s good for fighting oxidative stress, supporting the production of thyroid hormones, reducing blood sugar levels, and reducing inflammation.

Another nut to boost your testosterone is the macadamia nut. Macadamia nuts are low in polyunsaturated fats (reduce testosterone) and high in monounsaturated fats (boost testosterone).

The last nut that’ll boost your testosterone is the tiger nut. Tiger nuts can double your testosterone levels [3] . Known as earth almonds, they can enhance libido and contain a high amount of zinc and vitamins C and E.

05: Ginger

This spice contains vitamins C and E and lutein, tannin, beta-carotene, lycopene, and more. Ginger contains crucial manganese, zinc, selenium, and copper elements.

Ginger enhances testosterone by increasing LH production, improving blood cholesterol levels in the testes, normalizing blood glucose, reducing oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in the testes, increasing testicular weight, and recycling testosterone receptors.

foods that increase testosterone The Effectiveness of Ginger at Increasing Testosterone in Rats
Although not as effective as turmeric, ginger had a positive effect on testosterone in rats
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598100/

06: Olive Oil

Olive oil can improve your reproductive health by boosting serum testosterone levels. You can experience an increase in luteinizing hormones, stimulating cells in the testes to produce testosterone. This oil is abundant in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. These two elements can reduce heart disease and cancer.

07: Onions and Garlic

Despite their stout smells, these two foods can increase your testosterone levels.

Onions enhance testosterone levels by improving the production of luteinizing hormones, the hormones responsible for sexual development and functioning.[4] It also has high levels of flavonoids, a natural plant chemical that helps to increase testosterone levels.

Garlic, meanwhile, has a compound known as S-allyl cysteine that increases testosterone production. The S-allyl cysteine is a water-soluble organosulfur compound found in garlic extract, also known to boost testosterone. 

This compound is also known to protect against cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

Summary

Testosterone can be found in many things. Seafood, leafy vegetables, whole grain products, certain nuts, ginger, olive oil, onions, and garlic can boost testosterone production and give you other health benefits.

How to Boost Testosterone Naturally

With testosterone boosting foods come other natural testosterone boosters, too. You can reduce your alcohol consumption, exercise regularly, and maintain a balanced diet.

foods that increase testosterone

01: Reduce Alcohol Consumption

It’s fine to sip alcohol occasionally, but consistent consumption can lower your testosterone levels. For one, alcohol consumption can negatively impact your hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Your testosterone levels can decrease in as little as 30 minutes after sipping on a drink.

One study had healthy men drink a pint of whiskey per day for 30 days and had their testosterone levels compared to chronic alcoholics. The healthy men had lower T-levels on the third day and were around the same as the alcohol-drinkers’ levels by the end of the month. Those are the short-term effects.

Heavy drinkers are more likely to have poorer testicular functions than moderate drinkers. They’re also more likely to experience low libido, erectile dysfunction, and low testosterone levels. Alcohol can also interfere with LH, FSH, and GnRH release.

02: Exercise Regularly

Does working out increase testosterone? That answer is yes.

Regular exercise already has many health benefits, but certain exercises can give you free testosterone. It’s the major promoter of muscle building and growth. 

Resistance exercises, like weightlifting, are best for boosting your testosterone in both the short and long term. In one study, men who did resistance exercises three days a week for four weeks had more testosterone levels right after a workout and over time [5] .

It’s not the same way for everyone. One study showed a 21.6% increase in testosterone levels for the male body but only a 16.7% increase for women after a 30-minute weightlifting session [6]. Another study states that the rise in testosterone levels in women may only be temporary.

Some exercises, like cardio and running, do not raise testosterone production but lower it. One 2016 study showed that 20-minute intervals containing eight seconds of cycling could lower testosterone levels in women [7]. That’s because those exercises, also known as endurance exercises, break down muscle tissues.

There are also specific natural foods that will help you if you want to learn how to lower your testosterone levels

03: Maintain a Balanced Diet

You need a variety of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. That’s why maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for boosting your testosterone.

It’s best to eat a balance of carbs, fats, and protein. Carbs help optimize testosterone level during resistance training. Healthy fats can also help your testosterone and give you other health benefits. Proteins, meanwhile, will help you maintain healthy levels and help you lose any unhealthy fat. Less body fat means more testosterone.

Summary

You can naturally boost your testosterone by reducing your alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, and maintaining a balanced diet.

Which Foods Increase Testosterone the Most?

Many foods boost your testosterone, but certain foods will boost it more than others. If you want the most amount of testosterone, you should try eating zinc rich foods, like:

foods that increase testosterone

  • Seafood
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Whole grain products
  • Certain nuts
  • Ginger
  • Olive oil
  • Onions and garlic

Foods That’ll Increase Testosterone in Females

Testosterone production isn’t just important for men — females need it, too. Besides boosting libido and muscle building, testosterone also improves your mood and memory. To prevent low testosterone in women, try eating:

  • Organic, free-range eggs (rich in protein, vitamin B6, and omega-3)
  • Almonds and pumpkin seeds (rich in zinc, magnesium, and protein)
  • Leafy vegetables like kale and spinach (rich in magnesium, vitamin B6, and iron)
  • Wild oily fish like salmon and mackerel (rich in omega-3 and protein)
  • Black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans (rich in protein, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium)
  • Pomegranate juice (lowers blood pressure)

What Are Foods That Decrease Testosterone?

Now that we’ve gone over testosterone-boosting foods and how you can boost it, we should go over foods that’ll decrease testosterone. So, here are some testosterone killing foods:

  • Soy and soy-based products (high in phytoestrogens)
  • Vegetable oil (loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids)
  • Flaxseed (high in lignins and omega-3 fats- flaxseed effects on testosterone)
  • Processed foods (high in sodium and added sugar)
  • Certain nuts, like walnuts (high in polyunsaturated fatty acids)

Summary

To increase your testosterone levels, try eating more organic foods high in protein, magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc. Avoid foods that are high in phytoestrogens, lignins, and polyunsaturated fats.

How Can You Increase Testosterone Levels Quickly?

You can increase testosterone production naturally by eating certain foods such as whole grain products, ginger, leafy vegetables and seafood. 

You can also increase your testosterone naturally by reducing alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, and maintaining a balanced diet. As for increasing it quickly, you can take some vitamin D supplements or hormone treatments, such as:

  • Pills
  • Injections
  • Patches
  • Gel

However, hormone treatments must be prescribed by a licensed physician. 

Summary

You can have the best testosterone by eating certain foods, reducing alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, maintaining a balanced diet, and, if a doctor agrees your case is severe, undergoing hormone treatments.

Hormone Treatment

If a doctor determines you have a medical need for it, there are hormone treatments you can take to boost your testosterone. 

You can take many kinds of testosterone replacement therapy, such as:

foods that increase testosterone

  • Pills (taken twice daily)
  • Injections (given weekly)
  • Patches (attached to the skin)
  • Gel (applied to the skin)

Remember to take a blood test and wait for a diagnosis before taking these hormone treatments for testosterone.

Summary

With a doctor’s prescription, you can take hormone treatments like pills, injections, patches, and gel to increase your T-levels.

FAQ

We’ve compiled a list of the most popular questions asked about testosterone. 

What Foods Are Bad For Testosterone?

Foods that are bad for testosterone are soy/soy-based products, vegetable oil, flaxseeds, processed foods, and certain nuts (like walnuts).

How Can I Raise My Testosterone Levels Fast?

You can raise them quickly by eating foods that’ll boost testosterone, reduce alcohol consumption, exercise regularly, and maintain a balanced diet. You can also increase testosterone levels by taking hormone treatments (under medical supervision), like pills, injections, patches, and gel.

Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone?

No, masturbation doesn’t affect testosterone production.

Do Bananas Increase Testosterone?

Yes. Bananas have an enzyme called bromelain, which boosts testosterone levels.

Conclusion

The food you consume has all sorts of health benefits, and one of those benefits is improving testosterone levels. 

You can boost your testosterone levels by eating certain foods, reducing alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, maintaining a balanced diet, and taking hormone treatments. Testosterone, after all, has many benefits to keep you functioning.

References

  1. Colussi G;Catena C;Novello M;Bertin N;Sechi LA; “Impact of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Vascular Function and Blood Pressure: Relevance for Cardiovascular Outcomes.” Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases : NMCD, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27692558/.
  2. Y;, Shi L;Song R;Yao X;Ren. “Effects of Selenium on the Proliferation, Apoptosis and Testosterone Production of Sheep Leydig Cells in Vitro.” Theriogenology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28257863/.
  3. Verpeut, Jessica L, et al. “Citrus Aurantium and Rhodiola Rosea in Combination Reduce Visceral White Adipose Tissue and Increase Hypothalamic Norepinephrine in a Rat Model of Diet-Induced Obesity.” Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3808124/.
  4. Banihani, Saleem Ali. “Testosterone in Males as Enhanced by Onion (Allium Cepa l.).” Biomolecules, MDPI, 21 Feb. 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6406961/.
  5. Timón Andrada R;Maynar Mariño M;Muñoz Marín D;Olcina Camacho GJ;Caballero MJ;Maynar Mariño JI; “Variations in Urine Excretion of Steroid Hormones after an Acute Session and after a 4-Week Programme of Strength Training.” European Journal of Applied Physiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17051372/.
  6. Kumagai, Hiroshi, et al. “Increased Physical Activity Has a Greater Effect than Reduced Energy Intake on Lifestyle Modification-Induced Increases in Testosterone.” Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, The Society for Free Radical Research Japan, Jan. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4706091/.
  7. Kong, Zhaowei, et al. “Comparison of High-Intensity Interval Training and Moderate-to-Vigorous Continuous Training for Cardiometabolic Health and Exercise Enjoyment in Obese Young Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0158589.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety? Uses and Alternatives

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety? Uses and Alternatives

Dealing with anxiety disorders can leave people desperate for any form of relief. Unfortunately, people with mental illnesses like anxiety are also more likely to try self-medicating, and many turn to Adderall to manage their symptoms. 

Does Adderall benefit people with anxiety — or does the drug simply worsen the symptoms? 

This article answers the question while covering what Adderall is, why it is used, and alternative treatments for ADHD and anxiety. 

Key Takeaways: Adderall and Anxiety

  • Adderall is a drug used for treating ADHD
  • ADHD is typically diagnosed in children, but adult ADHD is also very common
  • Adderall can worsen anxiety if you don’t also have co-occurring ADHD.
  • Self-medicating with Adderall could lead to addiction
  • There are alternative treatments like nootropics available to treat symptoms of both ADHD and anxiety

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant drug often prescribed in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is a combination of amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and the inactive ingredients colloidal silicon dioxide, cornstarch, magnesium stearate, and compressible sugar, among others. 

Although adults can also have ADHD, most people develop the disorder as children or teens. ADHD symptoms include [1]: 

does adderall help with anxiety

  • Lack of attention
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disorganization
  • Forgetfulness
  • Regularly losing things

How Does Adderall Work?

As a drug used to treat ADHD, how Adderall works is by acting as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that increases the production and concentration of the norepinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters in your brain. 

Dopamine plays an essential role in feelings of pleasure, while norepinephrine is an excitatory hormone and neurotransmitter responsible for boosting brain function. 

Adderall Side Effects

As with all stimulant drugs, the side effects of Adderall vary from person to person and could range from mild jitters to severe sleeping issues. 

Adverse symptoms caused by Adderall use include: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Nervous behavior
  • Increased heart rate

Since Adderall can elevate your heart rate, severe side effects of Adderall use could include events like a heart attack or stroke [2].

Adderall Contraindications

As with all potent drugs, Adderall has several contraindications, such as [3]: 

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitor treatment for depression or other mental illnesses as this could raise their blood pressure to dangerous levels 
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Severe hypertension
  • People with a history of drug abuse
  • People with co-occurring conditions like depression or bipolar disorder

Before taking any drug, especially Adderall, you should always consult with a medical professional to discuss possible side effects and risks considering your medical history. 

Does Adderall Help Anxiety?

No, Adderall does not help with anxiety or similar mental health disorders like panic attacks or depression. Using Adderall to treat anxiety could worsen your symptoms as the effects of the drug could enhance your feelings of agitation, nervousness, and paranoia. 

Can You Get Prescribed Adderall for Anxiety?

Although some people may be prescribed Adderall to treat an anxiety disorder that exists alongside attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, stimulant drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are rarely prescribed as a treatment for anxiety on their own.

Should I Take Adderall If I Have Anxiety?

If you have a mental health condition or one of the many types of anxiety disorders diagnosed in Americans each year, you should not use Adderall as a treatment, whether prescribed by a doctor or not. 

Not only can Adderall worsen the symptoms of anxiety, but it has a high potential for abuse and subsequent addiction. 

Co-Occurring Anxiety with ADHD and Narcolepsy

Anxiety disorder usually doesn’t occur on its own. Many people who suffer from the condition also have co-occurring disorders like depression, ADHD, panic disorders, or even narcolepsy. 

Around 25% of people with ADHD also have anxiety [4], and another 35% of people with narcolepsy show anxiety symptoms, too [5]. This means people who use Adderall for their ADHD could also be experiencing the negative impact the drug has on their anxiety.

Does Adderall Cause Anxiety?

Not necessarily, since Adderall is often prescribed for ADHD patients to help them calm down and focus. Despite Adderall not directly causing an anxiety disorder, it could make pre-existing anxiety symptoms worse [6]. 

Since one of the neurotransmitters triggered by using Adderall is an excitatory hormone, using the drug could not only get you more worked up and make your anxiety worse, it could contribute to the development of a panic disorder and related panic attacks when used to treat anxiety symptoms. 

Adderall and ADHD Anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly half of the population of American adults diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also have some type or form of anxiety [7].

Does Adderall Help With ADHD Anxiety?

In many ways taking Adderall can help with anxiety symptoms if they are related to your ADHD. Struggling with ADHD means you might feel like you have no ownership over your brain, and you are constantly subject to the thoughts and impulses that pop into your head. 

Although Adderall and anxiety aren’t a good mix on their own, using the drug to deal with your ADHD could help your mind feel clear enough to reduce many of the symptoms of anxiety you would previously have had no control over. 

Which ADHD Medication Causes The Least Anxiety?

The stimulant with the least side effects is methylphenidate or Ritalin, most often prescribed for children and teenagers and least likely to cause anxiety.

Managing Adderall Related Anxiety

The mood disturbances caused by using or abusing Adderall can vary in severity but are often quite challenging to cope with. Thankfully there are several ways to deal with Adderall-related anxiety, the best of which are discussed below. 

Anti-Anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medication is often the first choice when managing anxiety caused by Adderall use, dealing with anxiety-related mental health issues, or simply when people feel anxious for no apparent reason. 

The most commonly prescribed drugs for quick treatment of anxiety symptoms are called benzodiazepines and include: 

does adderall help with anxiety

  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Ativan (Lorazepam)

Some medications for high blood pressure also have off-label benefits for treating anxiety or panic disorders.

Adderall Alternatives

If you are struggling with a mental health condition or are looking for other drugs than Adderall to help with your ADHD, there are a range of natural treatment options that may be more beneficial to your long-term recovery, especially considering Adderall abuse may eventually lead to addiction. 

The alternative supplements for treating the symptoms of ADHD or anxiety are called nootropics. They are natural supplements that act as cognitive enhancers and can boost your motivation, focus, memory, and learning abilities to help counteract the adverse effects of these disorders.

One of the best nootropics available, Mind Lab Pro, is a Universal Nootropic with research-backed ingredients like citicoline and phosphatidylserine, both of which are proven to enhance brain regeneration while boosting your mental energy levels, thought clarity, and attention. 

Another excellent option, Performance Lab Nootropics, contains four nootropic ingredients, including maritime pine bark and L-tyrosine, both of which significantly improve your cognitive function and boost the sectors of your brain most often affected by ADHD.  

FAQ 

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Adderall and anxiety.

Is Adderall Addictive?

Using Adderall for an extended period or taking it as a dual diagnosis treatment without a doctor’s prescription could lead to addiction and the possible development of other substance use disorders. 

Adderall abuse can quickly cause your body to become dependent on the drug, meaning you can’t function normally without it. Once you develop this physical and psychological dependence, you may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms between doses, leading to a full-blown Adderall addiction. 

does adderall help with anxiety Prevalence of Adderall abuse among college students compared to binge drinking and marijuana use
Among college students, 11.1% misuse Adderall whereas 28% binge drink and 5.9% smoke marijuana
Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/drug-alcohol-use-in-college-age-adults-in-2018

For many, an Adderall crash can become so severe it leads to suicidal thoughts, extreme mood swings, and depression. 

Getting addiction treatment if you believe you are abusing or are addicted to the drug is essential, and if you think your loved one may be misusing Adderall or prescription stimulants of any kind, you should encourage them to seek counseling and addiction treatment

addiction treatment to help them recover. 

Does Adderall Have a Calming Effect?

Most ADHD drugs like Adderall are stimulants, meaning they increase your energy and feelings of excitement, confidence, and focus. If you don’t have ADHD, Adderall will only rile you up, not calm you down. 

Can Stimulants Help With Anxiety?

In most cases, stimulants like Adderall and caffeine will only result in increased anxiety symptoms. These drugs are not prescribed for the treatment of any mental health disorder, only for the treatment of ADHD and similar conditions.

Does Adderall Help With Stress and Anxiety?

No, Adderall increases the negative feelings associated with these conditions as it is a central nervous system stimulant, not a sedative. 

What Is the Best Drug For Severe Anxiety?

Severe anxiety is a mental health disorder best treated with prescription medication like Xanax for immediate relief. Long-term recovery may involve therapy alongside other longer-acting drugs. 

Does Adderall Help With Depression?

No, using or abusing Adderall could lead to withdrawal symptoms that could worsen your depression and mental health by producing negative feelings and thoughts.

Conclusion

Trying to treat a mental illness can be challenging. Although Adderall use is adequate in managing ADHD, it does not benefit people with anxiety. 

If you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek therapy and medication made specifically for your condition, as in many cases misusing Adderall could lead to addiction and a range of adverse effects on your mental health.

And if you’re looking for a holistic, natural aid to relieve your symptoms, nootropics could help you combat ADHD and anxiety without using synthetic drugs like Adderall.

References:

  1. K;, Magnus W;Nazir S;Anilkumar AC;Shaban. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28722868/#:~:text=The%20symptoms%20begin%20at%20a,being%20forgetful%2C%20and%20losing%20things.
  2. Sichilima, Tangu, and Michael J Rieder. “Adderall and Cardiovascular Risk: A Therapeutic Dilemma.” Paediatrics & Child Health, Pulsus Group Inc, Mar. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690554/.
  3. Martin, Dustin. “Amphetamine.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 Aug. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556103/.
  4. TA;, Reimherr FW;Marchant BK;Gift TE;Steans. “Adhd and Anxiety: Clinical Significance and Treatment Implications.” Current Psychiatry Reports, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29152677/.
  5. Fortuyn HA;Lappenschaar MA;Furer JW;Hodiamont PP;Rijnders CA;Renier WO;Buitelaar JK;Overeem S; “Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Narcolepsy: A Case-Control Study.” General Hospital Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20114128/.
  6. Barr, Jeffrey L, et al. “Withdrawal from Chronic Amphetamine Produces Persistent Anxiety-like Behavior but Temporally-Limited Reductions in Monoamines and Neurogenesis in the Adult Rat Dentate Gyrus.” Neuropharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2946460/.
  7. “Adult Adhd (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder).” Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/adult-adhd.

Signs of Low Testosterone In Women

Signs of Low Testosterone In Women

Do you feel like you’re going nowhere? Perhaps you have no energy, no sense of joy in your life, no libido, or no progress at the gym or in your favorite sport. Maybe you’re experiencing all four of these problems.

If so, chances are you have low testosterone. Even though women have much lower requirements for testosterone than men, it’s still an essential hormone for your overall health and vitality. So what can we do to restore testosterone as women?  

Key Takeaways

  • Many women struggle with testosterone insufficiency, particularly post-menopausal women.
  • Testosterone plays vital roles in maintaining optimal health and well-being, including maintenance of muscle mass, libido, and some cognitive functions.
  • Too much testosterone is a feature of PCOS, a condition associated with weight gain and infertility.
  • Like men, zinc and strength training can significantly increase testosterone levels.
  • On the other hand, licorice, spearmint, and the contraceptive pill can lower testosterone, interfering with your muscle gain goals.
  • Hormone replacement therapy can effectively increase muscle growth.

What Is Low Testosterone in Women?

It is estimated that a total testosterone level of 25ng/mL or less indicates a testosterone deficiency in women under 50 years old. This cutoff moves to 20ng/mL or less for women over 50, when you are expected to be past menopause. For free testosterone, the criteria are hormone levels of under 1.5pg/mL and 1pg/mL for women under and over 50, respectively [1]

If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), your priority may be how to lower testosterone as you have excess testosterone. In this case, correcting metabolic dysregulation through a healthy diet, exercise, and drugs such as metformin can restore normal testosterone levels. 

The oral contraceptive pill, particularly formulations with progestin, is able to reduce testosterone production in the adrenal glands and prevent it from becoming more potent [2]

What Stimulates Testosterone in Women?

There are several ways to stimulate testosterone production in women. For example, zinc has been shown to double the levels of testosterone in postmenopausal women, from 25ng/mL to 50ng/mL. This led to improvements in sexual interest and natural lubrication [3]

As described below, resistance (strength) training may slightly, but meaningfully, increase testosterone levels in women. 

What Causes Low Testosterone in Women?

The biggest causative factor for low testosterone levels in women is menopause. The ovaries produce most testosterone, so all sex hormones levels drop below the normal range when the ovaries become too depleted. If you are in the over 40 age group, it may be time for a testosterone test. 

Perhaps you are too young to think about menopause, but instead, you’re on the oral contraceptive pill. Progestin, a common ingredient, can lower testosterone in women by reducing production of hormones in the ovaries. It also increases sex hormone binding globulin, which binds to the hormones and prevents them from working [2]

Women can be affected by testosterone killing foods too, just like men. If you enjoy licorice candy or tea, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it can reduce testosterone. Clinical studies show that licorice can be an effective treatment for PCOS, where testosterone levels are too high. In one clinical trial, levels fell from 27.8 to 17.5ng/dL in two months, but they quickly returned to normal afterward [4]

low testosterone in women The efficacy of licorice extract at improving PCOS by reducing testosterone in mice
Licorice extract showed to reduce testosterone in female mice with PCOS
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7569710/

Another common herbal remedy that we often enjoy as a tea is spearmint. Although it tastes refreshing, it has been found to reduce testosterone in women, too [5].

If you’ve been using flaxseed as an omega-3 fatty acid source or to balance female hormones, don’t worry. Research on women with PCOS shows that flaxseed effects on testosterone are insignificant, but it can improve your metabolic health [6]

Summary

Menopause, taking the oral contraceptive pill, and herbal medicines such as licorice and spearmint can all lower testosterone in women. 

What Are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Women? 

There are several key symptoms of low testosterone to look out for as a woman: 

low testosterone in women

  • An impaired ability to build muscle mass. Even though testosterone isn’t seen as important for women, it plays an essential role in building and maintaining muscle mass. This is an area of concern if you are older, in order to prevent age-related frailty [7]
  • Depression is a common consequence of both low and high testosterone levels in women. Beyond sadness, depression features an inability to feel pleasure and a deep, low mood [8]
  • Poor libido, in particular low arousal and sexual desire. 
  • Cognitive impairments, especially in spatial awareness, can be a consequence of low testosterone, too.  
  • Increased body fat, while combining estrogen and testosterone in hormone replacement therapy can prevent weight gain in post-menopausal women [7]

Summary

Low testosterone levels cause a range of mental, musculoskeletal, and endocrine (hormonal) problems, from difficulty building muscle to cognitive disturbance. 

Diagnosis

As testosterone is transported through the bloodstream, you will need a blood test to determine your testosterone levels. Your level of DHEA, the precursor to testosterone, should also be measured. These will be compared to the healthy reference ranges, and with your symptoms. It is possible to receive testosterone therapy even if your hormone levels are normal, if you are showing symptoms. 

For many years, physicians have called for testing testosterone and appropriate hormone therapy as soon as a perimenopausal woman complains of fallen sexual desire. Diagnosis may also be important if you have been taking estrogen replacement therapy, but it’s not working for you [1].

Summary 

If you are experiencing symptoms such as impaired libido and declining performance at the gym, it may be best for you to test for androgen deficiency.

How To Increase Testosterone in Females

There are several ways to correct an androgen deficiency and increase testosterone levels if you are a woman. They may involve hormone replacement therapy, nutrition, or lifestyle changes. 

Testosterone Therapy

The most convenient way to increase your testosterone levels is through testosterone replacement therapy. You can take it orally, or topically as a patch or cream. The latter two allow for a slower, more sustained release, similar to natural testosterone production [9]

An alternative to replacing testosterone is taking DHEA, the precursor to testosterone and other sex hormones. It has long been prescribed in cases of adrenal insufficiency, where your adrenal glands cannot pump out enough hormones. Some preparations can even be bought over the counter [1]

Foods That Increase Testosterone

As written above, zinc can dramatically boost testosterone so foods that increase testosterone will include those rich in zinc. Shellfish, both crustacean and mollusk, red meat, particularly beef liver, and certain root or leafy vegetables are good sources of zinc. Atlantic oysters, beef, and king crab come out on top [10]

low testosterone in women How shellfish can increase testosterone in women
The properties of shellfish showed to increase testosterone significantly in women over the course of 50 days
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6868249/

Theoretically, some cruciferous vegetables may keep up your levels of testosterone. Indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane (DIM), found in sources such as watercress and broccoli sprouts, inhibit the enzyme aromatase. This may contribute to androgen deficiency by “stealing” testosterone, and converting it into estrogen [11]

How Can a Woman Increase Her Testosterone Naturally?

If you want to try more natural ways to boost testosterone than just replacing hormones, you may be wondering, does working out increase testosterone? Research demonstrates that strength training is able to produce a small, yet significant, rise in free testosterone levels for women. Although much smaller, it persists for longer than in men, until at least 30 minutes after exercise [12]

Summary

Testosterone treatment options include directly replacing lost hormones, which can be topical or oral preparations. Milder cases of deficiency may benefit from zinc supplements or cruciferous vegetables, as well as strength training. 

FAQ

What are the most important things we need to know about low testosterone levels in women? 

What Are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Females?

Low testosterone contributes to weight gain as body fat, prevents you from building muscle, and can contribute to depression, fatigue, and poor libido. 

How Can a Woman Increase Her Testosterone Level?

Women can increase testosterone levels through hormone therapy, such as the use of testosterone patches or cream. 

What Is the Main Symptom of Low Testosterone?

The number one complained-about symptom of low testosterone in women is a lack of sexual desire, which can lead to both relationship and health problems if left unaddressed.  

How Does Testosterone Affect the Female Body?

Women produce testosterone to assist in muscle growth and maintenance, as well as maintaining a healthy libido, energy level, and mood balance. It is important to remember that women are more sensitive to testosterone’s effects, too. Too much testosterone can, however, worsen weight gain and depression, which we can see in cases of PCOS. 

What Happens When You Take Testosterone as a Woman?

Testosterone therapy in women causes increased muscle mass, which is often the intended effect. A trial of healthy women found they developed more muscle mass with use of a cream, at an increase of 923 grams instead of 135 grams. As for performance, only aerobic fitness improved, not strength [9]

Conclusion 

Many women struggle with low testosterone levels, which increases in prevalence as we get older. The cause can be anything from menopause or ovarian failure, down to taking the oral contraceptive pill or enjoying too much licorice. Fortunately, there are treatment options to suit a range of causes, from changing your diet to testosterone replacement therapy. 

References:

  1. Guay A, et al. (2003). Testosterone insufficiency in women: fact or fiction? bumc.bu.edu/sexualmedicine/publications/testosterone-insufficiency-in-women-fact-or-fiction/ 
  2. Rasquin Leon LI, Anastasopoulou C, Mayrin JV. Polycystic Ovarian Disease. [Updated 2021 Jul 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459251/
  3. Mazaheri Nia, Leila et al. “Effect of Zinc on Testosterone Levels and Sexual Function of Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of sex & marital therapy vol. 47,8 (2021): 804-813. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2021.1957732 
  4. Armanini, Decio et al. “Licorice reduces serum testosterone in healthy women.” Steroids vol. 69,11-12 (2004): 763-6. doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2004.09.005 
  5. Grant, Paul. “Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial.” Phytotherapy research : PTR vol. 24,2 (2010): 186-8. doi:10.1002/ptr.2900
  6. Haidari, Fatemeh et al. “The effects of flaxseed supplementation on metabolic status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized open-labeled controlled clinical trial.” Nutrition journal vol. 19,1 8. 24 Jan. 2020, doi:10.1186/s12937-020-0524-5 
  7. Davis, Susan R, and Sarah Wahlin-Jacobsen. “Testosterone in women–the clinical significance.” The lancet. Diabetes & endocrinology vol. 3,12 (2015): 980-92. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(15)00284-3
  8. Stanikova, Daniela et al. “Testosterone imbalance may link depression and increased body weight in premenopausal women.” Translational psychiatry vol. 9,1 160. 7 Jun. 2019, doi:10.1038/s41398-019-0487-5 
  9. Hirschberg, Angelica Lindén et al. “Effects of moderately increased testosterone concentration on physical performance in young women: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled study.” British journal of sports medicine vol. 54,10 (2020): 599-604. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-100525 
  10. Solomons, Noel W. “Dietary Sources of Zinc and Factors Affecting Its Bioavailability.” SAGE Journals, (2001) journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/156482650102200204.
  11. Licznerska, Barbara E et al. “Modulation of CYP19 expression by cabbage juices and their active components: indole-3-carbinol and 3,3′-diindolylmethene in human breast epithelial cell lines.” European journal of nutrition vol. 52,5 (2013): 1483-92. doi:10.1007/s00394-012-0455-9 
  12. Vingren, Jakob L et al. “Effect of resistance exercise on muscle steroid receptor protein content in strength-trained men and women.” Steroids vol. 74,13-14 (2009): 1033-9. doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2009.08.002 

Best Ginkgo Biloba Memory Supplements: A 2021 Guide to Nootropics

Best Ginkgo Biloba Memory Supplements: A 2021 Guide to Nootropics

Nicknamed the living fossil tree, ginkgo biloba has been around for 200 million years. Its leaves and seeds were an ancient remedy, used for millennia to treat dozens of ailments. But its medicinal value was only acknowledged by modern clinicians in the last few decades.

Sources say it can heal wounds, improve your vision, memory and concentration, improve blood circulation, and reduce depression. It was also the first treatment for asthma in traditional Chinese medicine.

But does folk medicine belong in the past? Or was ancient wisdom right all this time? 

Here we delve into the facts about ginkgo, and bring answers to light for you.

Key Takeaways: Ginkgo Biloba

  • Ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years due to its many claimed health benefits.
  • Effects of ginkgo biloba are said to support lowering blood pressure, positively impact mental health, respiratory health and detoxify cells.
  • It could be a cognitive enhancer due to its neuroprotective effects, helping with memory retention.
  • Further research is needed for the use of ginkgo biloba to prevent dementia.
  • Ginkgo comes in many forms and you should know how to use it properly.
  • There are many possible side effects of taking ginkgo biloba, especially if you are epileptic or taking blood thinner medication.

Overview: Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China also known as the maidenhair tree. Now, it is considered a medicinal tree and is one of the most popular herbal supplements in the world.

It’s been said to have an array of incredible uses during its long history, that include: 

  • Healing skin 
  • Improving circulation 
  • Treating vertigo
  • Helping with sexual dysfunction 

Ginkgo is most often associated with brain health, granting it claims to an array of cognitive benefits, and improvements in mental wellbeing [1].

The alleged health benefits have attracted attention from supplement companies and clinicians in recent years. Its bioactive compounds have been tested, assessing how the dietary supplement can be used to improve the lives of those with impairments and benefit the wellbeing of healthy people [1].

History

The ginkgo biloba tree has prehistoric roots—it’s thought to look the same as it did when dinosaurs were on earth. The living trees are themselves ancient; a ginkgo tree in China is estimated to be 3,500 years old [2]!

Its medicinal uses were recorded in Chinese medicine about 2,000 years ago. Ancient botanists experimented first with ginkgo seeds, later to discover its leaves could play an important function in treating major health problems, like lung and heart disease [3].

The tree’s healing properties were neglected for a long time, until 1964 when it caught the eye of a scientist. Since then, ginkgo biloba extracts have been introduced in modern and alternative medicine to support cognition, memory, and reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety [3].

How Does It Work?

​​There are many active ingredients of clinical importance contained in ginkgo biloba, especially in its seeds and leaves. 

Ginkgo seeds have recently been discovered to have potent antibacterial properties that can treat acne. This was an important finding for the development of topical medicines for people with psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema [3].

Its leaves have major antioxidant compounds with neuroprotective effects. They have the ability to remove free radicals from the body, which are harmful molecules that occur everywhere, both naturally and from toxins in the atmosphere. Our bodies require support to clear themselves from free radicals before they damage cells [4].

The active components in ginkgo biloba leaves can also support the cardiovascular system by improving circulation, strengthening the walls of small blood vessels, reducing high blood pressure, and preventing blood clotting. Stimulating blood flow can help protect nerve cells if they do not have enough oxygen [4].

Extracts of the herb may also promote wound healing, have benefits for the respiratory system, concentration problems and help to sharpen up memory [4].

Due to its uses for brain health, it was tested as a hopeful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. But antioxidants alone do not appear adequate for impacting serious neurological issues like Alzheimer’s disease [4].

Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba 

Ginkgo Biloba could have the following 10 health benefits:

  1. Boosts brain function and memory
  2. Improves anxiety and depression
  3. Reduces symptoms of psychiatric diseases
  4. Improves heart health and circulation
  5. Relieves premenstrual symptoms
  6. Reduces vertigo
  7. Supports vision and eye health
  8. Fights inflammation
  9. Improves asthma and symptoms of COPD
  10. Contains powerful antioxidants

Boosts Brain Function and Memory

Ginkgo biloba extract is said to have therapeutic benefits, especially for improving memory and cognition [5].

Its antioxidant effect gives it a neuroprotective factor, which is what is thought to improve memory. Protecting brain cells can support brain health, naturally helping sharpen up the mind, especially in otherwise healthy individuals looking for a boost [4].

We should not put too much faith in the herb for treating cognitive impairment, though. Although it can support brain function to a point, ginkgo biloba extract is not meant to be touted as a treatment for serious cognitive issues caused by stroke, or as a reliable way to reduce cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease [4].

Improves Anxiety and Depression

Ginkgo biloba extract can help the brain to balance hormones, and thereby, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to science [6].

It was shown to effectively improve the mental health of older adults who had depressive symptoms. When combined with other antidepressant medications, taking ginkgo can magnify the therapeutic benefits of psychiatric drugs according to the study [7].

best ginkgo biloba memory supplements Effectiveness of Ginkgo Biloba at improving generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Ginkgo biloba helped improve symptoms of GAD when taken at both high and low doses
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679686/

Reduces Symptoms of Psychiatric Diseases

Ginkgo is meant to be helpful for psychiatric patients for two reasons: firstly, it is said to be therapeutic for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia. This is because it can stabilize hormones in the brain, improving focus. 

Second, it has been examined as a way to reduce neural damage caused by psychiatric drugs—a side effect often seen in patients who have been medicated for a long time [8]

A side effect of antidepressants is antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction—the healing and relaxing effect of ginkgo could be one way to help improve symptoms [9].

Improves Heart Health and Circulation

Ginkgo has anticoagulant properties—meaning the active ingredients can act as blood thinners, stopping blood from clotting and improving blood flow. The extract has also been used as a way to improve circulation in people who experience cold hands and feet [10].

Another circulatory problem, called intermittent claudication, is when blood clots in the legs. The condition is common among older adults and can be very painful. As a blood thinner, Ginkgo has been tested as a treatment for the condition, and although it makes a difference to the symptoms, scientists say, not to a clinically significant degree [11].

Overall, the anticoagulant effect can improve vein health, positively impacting the cardiovascular system. Another effect of biloba is the dilation of blood vessels, which can reduce high blood pressure and support blood flow [12].

The herb has been known to improve sexual dysfunction for this reason also. Because it can improve circulation, it’s been said to increase blood flow to the penis, and is likely to support sexual function for women, too [13].

Relieves Premenstrual Symptoms

A randomized, placebo-controlled trial with women suffering from severe PMS showed that ginkgo extract significantly reduces the physical and psychological effects [14].

Premenstrual syndrome affects millions of women and can cause serious discomfort. Research on the positive impact of ginkgo was seen as a significant finding for the support of women with painful PMS. Ginkgo’s ability to improve PMS is likely due to its support with balancing hormones in the brain [14].

Reduces Vertigo

Vertigo is a feeling of dizziness and nausea caused by damage to nerves that connect to the inner ear. It can be a side effect of people who suffered a stroke [15].

Although ginkgo’s been tested as a way to treat vertigo, it’s unclear if the extract has a significant impact on the condition. A couple of small-scale studies have assessed the impact—some found noticeable improvements but others found no difference between the placebo group and the group taking standardized ginkgo [16] [17].

best ginkgo biloba memory supplements
The group taking Ginkgo biloba saw a significant improvement in symptoms
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4099171/

Supports Vision and Eye Health

Sharp vision relies on healthy nerves and good blood circulation. Due to ginkgo’s alleged impact on those areas of health, it is said to improve people’s vision and eyesight. There’s some research in this regard with glaucoma patients [18].

Age-related macular degeneration, which means the deterioration of sight with age, is another possible area of research with ginkgo extract.

Fights Inflammation

Inflammation of neurons and the nervous system is the body’s reaction to damage caused by toxins, viruses, and injury. Left untreated, inflammation can cause damage to cells. The anti-inflammatory effects of ginkgo can help prevent damage [4].

Improves Asthma and Symptoms of COPD

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are complex and unique respiratory conditions, however, a key cause of both is chronic inflammation in the lungs [19]. ​​Anti-inflammatory therapies, like ginkgo, are central to long-term asthma management, according to experts [20].

Research shows that ginkgo biloba extract may be used as a complement to steroid treatment for asthma [21].

best ginkgo biloba memory supplements Effectiveness of Ginkgo Biloba at increasing lung resistance in mice
Ginkgo Biloba, when combined with ovalbumin, showed to increase lung resistance in mice
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6264276/

Contains Powerful Antioxidants

As explored in other sections, there’s a fair amount of evidence showing the antioxidant power of ginkgo biloba extract and leaves. The ability to reduce oxidative stress, which is damage to neurons caused by toxins, is the reason it has memory and mind-boosting qualities [22].

Ginkgo nuts are good for detoxing, and a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking.

Roasted ginkgo seeds are shown to have antioxidant power comparable with ginkgo biloba standardized extract, dried leaf extracts, and commercial ginkgo capsules [23].

The Best Ginkgo Biloba Memory Nootropics 

Did we mention, ginkgo is a popular nootropic ingredient? There are various nootropic stacks blended as nootropics for motivation and nootropics for memory. Here we provide a summary of some leading brands producing ginkgo biloba supplements.

best ginkgo biloba memory supplements

Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind is said to be a winner for both physical and mental performance. It contains five nootropic herbal ingredients, seven neuro-boosting vitamins, six adaptogens, five amino acids, and choline, which is important for brain and cell health. Most of the ingredients, like ginkgo, are likely to help you concentrate and improve your memory. 

Pros

  • Sharpens up memory
  • Boosts mental energy
  • Reputable brand
  • Contains many B vitamins

Cons

  • Dozens of ingredients; unclear if all of them are equally beneficial
  • Expensive

BrainPill

Besides ginkgo, BrainPill dietary supplements include vitamins, amino acids, and other nootropic compounds such as l-theanine, which is great for boosting memory. The ingredients are said to have other benefits too, such as reducing cognitive decline. 

Pros

  • Improves memory
  • Reduces brain fog
  • Relatively affordable
  • Simple dosage instructions

Cons

  • Contains only four nootropic ingredients. The average blend would contain around ten herbs

Check out our comprehensive BrainPill review to read more about this leading popular nootropic.

If you’re a serious neurohacker and shopping around for the best supplement, read our research on other products via the Mind Lab Pro review and Performance Lab Nootropics review. They include more information about nootropics and alternatives to ginkgo products.

How To Take Ginkgo Biloba 

Depending on your preference and needs, you can take ginkgo in a few different forms, including:

  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Liquid extracts
  • Leaves and teas
  • Topically
  • In blended nootropic supplements/stacks

Dosing

In studies, healthy adults have safely taken between 120 mg – 240 mg a day in divided doses. 

How Much Ginkgo Biloba Should I Take for Memory?

Tried and tested dosages for patients who have memory problems and mild cognitive impairment is 120mg – 240 mg daily, taken in two to three doses [24].

Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects 

Common side effects of ginkgo biloba:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness / Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting

Unusual side effects of ginkgo:

  • Seizures
  • Allergic skin reactions
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Dermatitis from contact with skin
  • Impaired fertility [25]
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach upset
  • Subdural hematoma or higher risk of stroke
  • Ventricular arrhythmia/palpitations
  • Spontaneous bleeding [26]

The serious side effects listed here are rare, especially in healthy adults. However, there is a chance that they’re underreported, so further research about them is needed [26]

Use of ginkgo biloba should always be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Precautions and Warnings

Ginkgo biloba comes with various precautions and warnings because it can prevent blood clotting and has a potentially toxic effect on the body. To ensure that it’s right for you, take note: 

It’s not advisable to take ginkgo when pregnant or breastfeeding, and if taken close to childbirth it can cause excess bleeding when in labor. For the same reason, anyone who is about to undergo surgery should avoid taking ginkgo biloba [24]

More research is needed to fully understand the effects during pregnancy and on breast milk.

People who take blood thinners, either as pain relief or for a cardiovascular issue, should avoid ginkgo supplements due to its anticoagulant effects. Doubling up on these drugs may cause a potentially dangerous bleeding disorder [24].

Ginkgo nuts can be poisonous and should never be eaten raw. Cooked and roasted ginkgo nuts can be eaten but should always be prepared well.

Seizure threshold lowering drugs, such as ginkgo, can create conditions in the brain that bring on seizures. It is particularly risky for those who are already prone to seizures, like epileptic individuals.

When it comes into contact with the skin, ginkgo has been known to cause allergic skin reactions that has developed into contact dermatitis [26]

Research with animals shows ginkgo is a possible carcinogen, which means the seeds and leaves can be toxic at high doses [25].

Interactions

There are various possible interactions with ginkgo and other drugs, mostly with anti-platelet drugs or blood-thinning medications [24].

Certain antidepressants can also interact with ginkgo biloba, possibly making them more or less effective. Taking ginkgo with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, which is a potentially fatal reaction [27].

Taking ginkgo biloba should always be done in consultation with a physician, especially if you are already prescribed medication.

Who Should Not Take Ginkgo Biloba?

The following people should avoid taking ginkgo altogether:

best ginkgo biloba memory supplements

  • Anyone taking blood thinners
  • Children
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Epileptic people

FAQ

The effects of ginkgo biloba are almost as rich as its long history! Let’s make it shorter and answer your commonly asked questions:

Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe for Long Term Use?

The answer to this is unclear as further research is needed regarding the long-term effects of taking ginkgo supplements. However, ginkgo biloba is generally considered safe by physicians, unless you are pregnant, epileptic, or taking certain drugs.

Does Ginkgo Biloba Improve Memory?

Yes, it could! Evidence points to improved memory as ginkgo’s key possible benefit.

Can Ginkgo Cause Stroke?

It’s very unlikely, but there’s some anecdotal evidence that people taking ginkgo have also had ischemic attacks [27].

How Long Does Ginkgo Biloba Take to Kick In?

As with most nootropics, you can expect to take the herbal supplement for at least a few weeks before getting the full effects.

Is Ginkgo Biloba Good for the Heart?

Yes, possibly. Improving circulation and dilating blood vessels are effects of ginkgo that are conducive to a healthy heart. It can also reduce blood pressure, another way of lowering strain on the cardiovascular system and heart.

Conclusion

Ginkgo has some wonderful and powerful health benefits, reinforcing the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine from its ancient past. For its neuro benefits alone, it’s tempting to try it, but just ensure you’re doing it right. 

As discussed in this article, it has strong effects on the body and a few possible interactions. A medical professional should always be consulted before you start taking ginkgo biloba.

References

  1. Isah, Tasiu. “Rethinking Ginkgo Biloba L.: Medicinal Uses and Conservation.” Pharmacognosy Reviews, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557237/. 
  2. Gingko, www.bellarmine.edu/faculty/drobinson/Gingko.asp#:~:text=It%20supposedly%20has%20been%20around,comes%20from%20a%20Japanese%20origin. 
  3. Chassagne, François, et al. “Validation of a 16th Century Traditional Chinese Medicine Use of Ginkgo Biloba as a TOPICAL ANTIMICROBIAL.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 1 Jan. 1AD, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2019.00775/full. 
  4. Singh, Sandeep Kumar, et al. “Neuroprotective and Antioxidant Effect of Ginkgo Biloba Extract against Ad and Other Neurological Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics : the Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Springer International Publishing, July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6694352/. 
  5. R;, Field BH;Vadnal. “Ginkgo Biloba and Memory: An Overview.” Nutritional Neuroscience, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27414695/. 
  6. Banin, Renata Mancini, et al. “Ginkgo Biloba Extract (GBE) ATTENUATES Obesity and Anxious/Depressive-like Behaviours Induced BY OVARIECTOMY.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 8 Jan. 2021, www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78528-3?utm_source=other&utm_medium=other&utm_content=null&utm_campaign=JRCN_1_LW01_CN_SCIREP_article_paid_XMOL. 
  7. Dai, Chun-Xiao, et al. “Role of Ginkgo Biloba Extract as an Adjunctive Treatment of Elderly Patients with Depression and on the Expression of Serum s100b.” Medicine, Wolters Kluwer Health, Sept. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6181482/. 
  8. Therapeutic Use of Ginkgo Biloba. opencommons.uconn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1019&context=som_articles&httpsredir=1&referer=. 
  9. Wheatley D. Ginkgo biloba in the treatment of sexual dysfunction due to antidepressant drugs. Hum Psychopharmacol. 1999;14:512–513. [Google Scholar]
  10. CS;, Roland PD;Nergård. “[Ginkgo Biloba—Effect, Adverse Events and Drug Interaction].” Tidsskrift for Den Norske Laegeforening : Tidsskrift for Praktisk Medicin, Ny Raekke, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22562327/. 
  11. Nicolaï SP;Gerardu VC;Kruidenier LM;Prins MH;Teijink JA; “From the Cochrane Library: Ginkgo Biloba for Intermittent Claudication.” VASA. Zeitschrift Fur Gefasskrankheiten, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20464671/. 
  12. Wu, Yu-Zhou, et al. “Ginkgo Biloba Extract Improves Coronary Artery Circulation in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease: Contribution of Plasma Nitric Oxide and Endothelin‐1.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 29 Apr. 2008, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.2335. 
  13. Meston, Cindy M, et al. “Short- and Long-Term Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on Sexual Dysfunction in Women.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2863090/. 
  14. Ozgoli, Giti, et al. “A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Ginkgo Biloba L. in Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome.” Libertpub.com, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary MedicineVol. 15, No. 8, 13 Aug. 2009. 
  15. Kim, Ji Soo, and Hyung Lee. “Posterior Circulation Stroke and Vestibular Syndromes.” Oxford Medicine Online, Oxford University Press, oxfordmedicine.com/view/10.1093/med/9780199608997.001.0001/med-9780199608997-chapter-23. 
  16. Cesarani A;Meloni F;Alpini D;Barozzi S;Verderio L;Boscani PF; “Ginkgo Biloba (Egb 761) in the Treatment of Equilibrium Disorders.” Advances in Therapy, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10345150/. 
  17. Sokolova, Larysa, et al. “Treatment of Vertigo: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial Comparing Efficacy and Safety of Ginkgo Biloba Extract EGB 761 and Betahistine.” International Journal of Otolaryngology, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4099171/. 
  18. Quaranta L;Bettelli S;Uva MG;Semeraro F;Turano R;Gandolfo E; “Effect of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on Preexisting Visual Field Damage in Normal Tension Glaucoma.” Ophthalmology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12578781/. 
  19. Zhang, P.F., et al. “Recent Developments in the Mechanism of Ginkgo Biloba Extract in the Treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” 万方数据知识服务平台, May 2017, d.wanfangdata.com.cn/periodical/ChlQZXJpb2RpY2FsQ0hJTmV3UzIwMjEwOTA5Eg96Z3FreXgyMDE3MTUwMjQaCDR0OHk2eXBw. 
  20. Chu, Xiao, et al. “A Novel Anti-Inflammatory Role FOR Ginkgolide B in Asthma via Inhibition of THE ERK/MAPK Signaling Pathway.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 6 Sept. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6264276/. 
  21. Tang, Yijun, et al. “The Effect of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on the Expression of Pkcα in the Inflammatory Cells and the Level of Il-5 in Induced Sputum of Asthmatic Patients.” Current Medical Science, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11596-007-0407-4. 
  22. Lejri, Imane, et al. “Mitochondria- and Oxidative Stress-Targeting Substances in Cognitive Decline-Related Disorders: From Molecular Mechanisms to Clinical Evidence.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, Hindawi, 12 May 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6535827/. 
  23. “Antioxidant Capacity in Ginkgo Biloba.” ResearchGate, www.researchgate.net/publication/223257304_Antioxidant_capacity_in_Ginkgo_biloba. 
  24. Sierpina, Victor S, et al. “Ginkgo Biloba.” Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 68, ser. 5, 1 Sept. 2003, pp. 923–928. 5
  25. “Making Fertility-Friendly Lifestyle Choices.” Harvard Health, 25 Mar. 2017, www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/making-fertility-friendly-lifestyle-choices#:~:text=Researchers%20at%20Loma%20Linda%20University,and%20reduced%20a%20sperm’s%20viability. 
  26. Mei, Nan, et al. “Review of Ginkgo Biloba-Induced Toxicity, from Experimental Studies to Human Case Reports.” Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part C, Environmental Carcinogenesis & Ecotoxicology Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 Jan. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6373469/. 
  27. M;, Woroń J;Siwek. “Unwanted Effects of Psychotropic Drug Interactions with Medicinal Products and Diet Supplements Containing Plant Extracts.” Psychiatria Polska, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30659561/. 

What Is Adderall Abuse? Effects of Addiction and Withdrawal

What Is Adderall Abuse? Effects of Addiction and Withdrawal

Adderall has brought relief to many people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, in the process, Adderall abuse has also become common. With a reputation for making you smarter, it’s no wonder overworked students are willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, they are probably trading very minor benefits for a slew of serious risks.  

Key Takeaways: Adderall Abuse

  • Adderall is a drug used to treat ADHD.
  • Adderall is unlikely to improve mental performance if you don’t have ADHD.
  • Adderall is an amphetamine and considered a controlled substance.
  • It is possible to develop an addiction to Adderall.
  • It is possible to overdose on Adderall.
  • Adderall abuse can have life-threatening impacts on your health.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is the brand name of popular prescription drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [1]. It is also approved to treat narcolepsy. The generic name is mixed amphetamine salts, consisting of both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. 

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant, with effects on both voluntary and involuntary functions [2]. It is one of the more common treatment options for ADHD. A range of other drugs are also used to treat the disorder, including Ritalin and Focalin.

As we’ll examine more closely, there is a great deal of illicit Adderall use, usually as a study drug.

How Does Adderall Work?

Someone with ADHD is likely to have lower than average levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Like many prescription drugs used for treating ADHD, Adderall increases the production of dopamine.

Dopamine is part of the brain’s reward center and is used to encourage us to do things that help us survive, like find food or build shelter. With healthy levels of dopamine, we’re better motivated to solve problems and therefore find it easier to focus.

What Does Adderall Do to a Normal Person?

It’s important to get the dosage correct when you treat ADHD, as more Adderall isn’t always better. It therefore follows, a neurotypical person taking Adderall may increase dopamine levels to an unhealthy degree. It can have effects on both physical and mental health, including:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Seizures.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Mood swings.
  • Psychotic episodes [2].

Taking Adderall outside a doctor’s direction is a form of prescription drug abuse, with a risk of addiction. Additionally, while Adderall abuse may cause a minor increase in focus, it doesn’t seem to significantly improve memory or cognition.

What Is Adderall Abuse?

Drug abuse is defined as compulsive use of a substance despite negative consequences. Practically speaking, if you’re not treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy under a doctor’s care, you’re abusing Adderall.

Students are most likely to abuse Adderall, particularly college students. It’s seen as a study drug, as the increased focus is equated to greater intelligence. However, whatever benefits it has seem to be limited, likely outweighed by the adverse effects experienced when someone abuses Adderall.

Adderall abuse usually leads to tolerance, high doses, and addiction. Some users report snorting Adderall for a quick high. Mixing Adderall with alcohol use is also common.

Statistics of Adderall Abuse in the United States

Methylphenidate, otherwise known as Ritalin, may actually be more commonly abused than Adderall. However, some colleges have reported that more than 25% of their students used prescription stimulants without a prescription [3]. In 2009, it was estimated one in five high school students had used a prescription drug illicitly [4].

Most of the Adderall is supplied through diversion, in which students with legitimate prescriptions give or sell pills to others [5]. As nearly 10% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD, there is a large supply [6]

Most people cite cognitive enhancement as the reason for abuse, using Adderall as a smart drug [7]. Substance abuse is often associated with other mental illness, as well. 

Which gender was found to be more likely to misuse Adderall in college?

Which gender was found to be more likely to misuse Adderall in college?
Select a choice to reveal the answer
Show hint
Correct! Wrong!

Which gender was found to be more likely to misuse Adderall in college?
14.6% of male college students misuse Adderall and only 8.8% of female college students

adderall abuse Percentage of college students who are abusing Adderall

Common Signs of Adderall Abuse

Adderall and caffeine are both central nervous system stimulants. Their effects may seem somewhat similar, with both causing things like:

  • Restlessness.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Trouble sleeping.

Adderall abuse usually means higher doses than would be taken with a prescription, so signs could include those symptoms and more serious versions.

Among these other Adderall abuse signs, it’s common for those abusing Adderall to also use a variety of other drugs, including alcohol [8].

Side Effects of Adderall Abuse

The side effects of Adderall are generally manageable when taken in prescribed doses. When used at the level of substance abuse, there is a higher risk of adverse effects. Since Adderall is an amphetamine, too much Adderall is similar in effect to that type of drug use.

Short-Term Effects

Even in the short term, the side effects of Adderall abuse can be quite serious. As we’ve mentioned, therapeutic doses can raise a person’s blood pressure. Higher doses put a greater strain on the system so that high blood pressure becomes a heart attack. Effects also include impacts on mental health or even sudden death.

Other short-term side effects of higher doses include:

Adderall abuse

  • Anxiety.
  • Twitchiness.
  • Aggressiveness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Confusion.
  • Dizziness.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Insomnia.
  • Headaches.
  • Seizure.
  • Mood swings.
  • Compulsive behavior.

Long-Term Effects

There have been no long-term studies of Adderall use, either in therapeutic doses or used illicitly. However, prolonged Adderall abuse will be broadly similar to any sort of amphetamine abuse.

One of the chief effects is most likely a build-up of tolerance, in which larger doses are required over time to achieve the desired effects. That leads rapidly to physical dependence and addiction. At that point, ceasing use can lead to dangerous Adderall withdrawal symptoms. 

Abusing amphetamines has also been known to cause mental disorders. Psychotic episodes are most often cited, though amphetamines have also been known to cause schizophrenia-like symptoms [9]. It’s possible that using amphetamines at a younger age also makes you vulnerable to bipolar disorder [10].

The damage to the cardiovascular system also increases over time. Increased blood pressure over prolonged periods makes cardiovascular disease more likely. Irregular heartbeats and a weakened heart are also possible.

How Does Adderall Affect the Brain?

In addition to producing dopamine, Adderall also prompts the brain to make several other neurotransmitters, including adrenaline, norepinephrine, and serotonin [11].

Dopamine gets the spotlight because it’s useful in treating a variety of illnesses, producing a feeling of wellness. It’s also the driving factor in most substance addiction, as users chase that pleasurable sensation. When dopamine levels drop, as the drug wears off or the user quits using, Adderall withdrawal symptoms occur.

Adderall and Depression

While Adderall is not approved for use in treating depression or anxiety, many people with ADHD also suffer from those conditions [12]. Stimulant drugs that produce dopamine are sometimes used to treat depression, so Adderall may have some benefits there.

However, that is also likely to be a reason Adderall is abused to a dangerous degree. Addicts often suffer from depression and use drugs to self-medicate. Unfortunately, amphetamines have also been known to cause depressive symptoms, leading to a dangerous downward spiral [13].

Personality Changes While Taking Adderall

Adderall can cause changes in mood and behavior, or worsen already existing issues. Amphetamines generally can cause extreme mood swings. Increases in anxiety can also lead to panic attacks and paranoia. Adderall may also cause aggressiveness.

More serious mental health problems may also be caused. Psychosis and mania are the most commonly cited dangers. Using Adderall may also cause serotonin syndrome, causing hallucinations, agitation, and delusions.

Physical Effects of Adderall Addiction

At this point, it should be obvious that Adderall abuse and addiction result in some serious health risks. We’ve looked at some of the immediate physical and mental side effects of using Adderall. Some physical effects already discussed include:

  • Weight loss.
  • Increase blood pressure.
  • Higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Increased risk of heart attack.
  • Twitchiness or tremors.
  • Seizures.

In younger people, there is a possibility Adderall’s properties can suppress growth. Additionally, it may cause damage to blood vessels or lead to a rare condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon [1]. Other serious physical effects could include:

  • Serious skin rash.
  • Necrosis of the skin.
  • Alopecia.
  • Dissolution of muscle tissue [14].
  • Increased body temperature.

Recognizing the Signs of Adderall Addiction

The range of potential adverse effects may make prescription stimulant use seem terrifying. However, most of them only appear in rare or particularly severe cases. It’s much more difficult to spot Adderall drug addiction in earlier stages. Despite that, there are several signs you can look for.

adderall abuse

Physical signs include things like:

  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Tiredness and lethargy.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Twitchiness.

Behavioral signs include things like:

  • Dramatic mood swings.
  • Manic episodes.
  • Aggressiveness.
  • Repetitive behaviors.

In extreme cases, users may experience formication hallucinations, characterized by itchiness without apparent cause. Paranoia and bizarre delusions are also possible. Additionally, stimulant drug use masks the effects of alcohol, making alcohol poisoning more likely [15].

Drug addiction can also make itself known in other aspects of life, such as poor personal hygiene or losing contact with friends.

Intervention and Next Step Options

It is certainly possible to overcome addiction to Adderall. However, it may require professional addiction treatment or a stay at a treatment center. Withdrawal from amphetamines can cause some serious health issues. Additionally, if you attempt to take a higher dose after going through withdrawal, your odds of overdosing are much higher.

Unfortunately, there are no drugs that would make Adderall addiction treatment easier [16]. There are a number of behavioral options that might help, however. More information can be found on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

Adderall Alternatives: Nootropics

The most commonly given reason for Adderall abuse is cognitive enhancement. In simple terms, it has a reputation for making you smarter. Adderall probably doesn’t live up to that reputation. 

Drugs meant to make you smarter are called nootropics. While many are so potent as to be dangerous, there are some supplements that are safer and cheaper. They may not rev your mental motor as much as stimulant medication, but they also are less likely to grind your gears.

Benefits of Nootropics

Most nootropics work along broadly similar lines as Adderall. Dopamine production is encouraged, which activates the reward centers of the brain. That provides some mental motivation, providing neurochemical resources for solving problems. As a result, nootropics for motivation are often the most effective option.

Nootropic supplements will also often include ingredients that have neuroprotective properties. Rather than providing a mental boost at the cost of brain health, nootropic supplements may actually leave your brain healthier.

Types of Nootropics

Legal, safe nootropic options are usually supplements that you take on a regular basis. They provide a general, consistent boost in focus, concentration, and memory, as well as supporting good brain health.

These are a couple of our favorite options, containing safe and useful ingredients.

Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro uses an array of ingredients to help you focus, as well as providing a range of other benefits. In particular, Mind Lab Pro relies on citicoline to serve as an Adderall alternative, mildly upping dopamine production [17]

Additionally, all their products contain sustainable ingredients and are shipped in environmentally responsible packaging. Find out more in our detailed Mind Lab Pro review.

Performance Lab Nootropic

Similar in many ways to Mind Lab Pro’s offering, Performance Lab Mind also contains citicoline as a way of increasing dopamine, and therefore motivation. Other ingredients prevent oxidative damage or provide raw materials for making more dopamine [18][19].

If that sounds interesting, take a closer look at our Performance Lab Pro review.

FAQ

If you’re less interested in brain chemistry and more interested in simple answers, this is the section for you.

What Are Adderall Addiction Symptoms?

Addiction to Adderall will have many of the same symptoms as any sort of addiction, including behavior changes and a narrowing of interest. Symptoms specific to Adderall can include:

  • Dropping weight suddenly.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Twitchiness.
  • Mood swings.
  • Repetitive behaviors.
  • Aggressiveness.

What Happens If You Take Adderall Without ADHD?

You may find that your ability to focus improves slightly. However, you’re also likely to:

Adderall abuse

  • Become more anxious.
  • Have difficulty sitting still.
  • Become dizzy or confused.
  • Have an increased heart rate.
  • Become nauseous.
  • Develop headaches.

Can I Get Better Grades on Adderall?

If you do, you might want to consider being tested for ADHD. Otherwise, Adderall is as likely to be a hindrance as a help in school work. In people without ADHD, Adderall causes a range of negative effects that are likely to interfere with doing well at school. 

Is It Possible to Overdose on Adderall?

It is absolutely possible to have a life-threatening overdose on Adderall. As an amphetamine, Adderall is a potent drug that can strongly affect your system in many ways. Additionally, one of the potential side effects is sudden death.

Conclusion

Under the direction of a doctor, Adderall can be of benefit to some people. However, abusing Adderall is gambling with your health with no real chance of winning. After all, if the pill really made you smarter, you’d probably be wise enough to stop taking it.

References:

  1. “Adderall CII.” Access Data, Federal Drug Administration, www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/011522s043lbl.pdf.
  2. Shoar, Nazila Sharbaf. “Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 5 June 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507808/. 
  3. Weyandt, Lisa L., et al. “Neurocognitive, Autonomic, and Mood Effects of Adderall: A Pilot Study of Healthy College Students.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 27 June 2018, https://www.mdpi.com/2226-4787/6/3/58/htm.
  4. “Media Statement.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Jan. 2010, https://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/s100603.htm.
  5. Darredeau, Christine, et al. “Patterns and Predictors of Medication Compliance, Diversion, and Misuse in Adult Prescribed Methylphenidate Users.” Human Psychopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Dec. 2007, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17910020/.
  6. “Data and Statistics about ADHD.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Sept. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html.
  7. Sussman, Steve, et al. “Misuse of ‘Study Drugs:” Prevalence, Consequences, and Implications for Policy.” Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, BioMed Central, 9 June 2006, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1524735/.
  8. Meisner, Jessica R, et al. “Extended Release Stimulant Medication Misuse with Alcohol Co-Administration.” Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry = Journal De L’Academie Canadienne De Psychiatrie De L’enfant Et De L’adolescent, Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Nov. 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583913/.
  9. Lakhan, Shaheen E, and Annette Kirchgessner. “Prescription Stimulants in Individuals with and without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Misuse, Cognitive Impact, and Adverse Effects.” Brain and Behavior, Blackwell Publishing Inc, Sept. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489818/#b37.
  10. DelBello, Melissa P, et al. “Prior Stimulant Treatment in Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder: Association with Age at Onset.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 24 Jan. 2002, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1034/j.1399-5618.2001.030201.x.
  11. Vasan, Sarayu, and Garth J Olango. “Amphetamine Toxicity.” Europe PMC, 10 July 2021, https://europepmc.org/article/NBK/nbk470276.
  12. Coughlin, Catherine G, et al. “Meta-Analysis: Reduced Risk of Anxiety with Psychostimulant Treatment in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Oct. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4617411/.
  13. Leventhal, Adam M, et al. “Anhedonia Associated with Stimulant Use and Dependence in a Population of American Adults.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2010, https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2010-26426-012.
  14. Torres, Patrick A, et al. “Rhabdomyolysis: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” The Ochsner Journal, The Academic Division of Ochsner Clinic Foundation, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4365849/.
  15. “Commonly Used Drugs Charts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 20 Aug. 2021, https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts#prescription-stimulants.
  16. Shoptaw, Steven J, et al. “Treatment for Amphetamine Withdrawal.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 15 Apr. 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7138250/.
  17. Jasielski, Patryk, et al. “Application of Citicoline in Neurological Disorders: A Systematic Review.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 12 Oct. 2020, https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/10/3113/htm.
  18. Rafnsson, Snorri Bjorn, et al. “Antioxidant Nutrients and Age-Related Cognitive Decline: A Systematic Review of Population-Based Cohort Studies.” European Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 June 2013, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23744025/.
  19. “Tyrosine.” Tyrosine – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Tyrosine. 

Over the Counter Adderall Alternatives

Over the Counter Adderall Alternatives

Perhaps you were prescribed Adderall and can’t stand the side effects anymore. Or, maybe you want to clear your head and get motivated without the risks of illegal drug use. 

Natural nootropic supplements are a safer way to boost your brainpower when you’re dealing with a poor attention span or lack of motivation. Some ingredients act as stimulants by increasing neurotransmitters; others protect and regulate brain cells (neurons). 

Let’s look at some of the best nootropics that can act as over-the-counter Adderall.

Quick View

  • Best Overall – Mind Lab Pro
  • Best for Key Ingredients – Performance Lab Mind 
  • Best for Fast Results – NooCube 
  • Best for Brain Nutrition – Qualia Mind
  • Best Circulation Boost – BrainPill

Best Overall – Mind Lab Pro 

Product or Service 

Price per bottle

Doses per bottle

Nootropic actions

No. of ingredients

Evidence supplied?

Mind Lab Pro

$69.00 

15

6

11

Yes 

Performance Lab Mind 

$69.00

30

4

4

Partially

NooCube

$59.00

30

3

7

Yes

Qualia Mind

$119.00; $69.50 first bottle

22 (28-day cycle)

6

28

Yes

BrainPill

$69.95

30

6

13

No

Quick Verdict 

Best Overall – Mind Lab Pro 

Mind Lab Pro is the best overall when it comes to nootropics, thanks to its all-around cognitive benefits. As our Mind Lab Pro review explains, this natural Adderall alternative contains 11 ingredients to enhance the production of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, boost brain regeneration, and protect the neurons you already have through antioxidant support. 

Adderall vs Over the Counter Adderall

Adderall is a prescription pharmaceutical used to manage attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Adderall is not sold over the counter, as its side effect profile makes it unsafe. Some people buy Adderall or similar stimulants illegally as “smart drugs”, even if they have no ADHD symptoms [1]

Among college students, who is more likely to misuse Adderall?

Among college students, who is more likely to misuse Adderall?
Click on an answer to reveal what surveys found
Show hint
Correct! Wrong!

Among college students, who is more likely to misuse Adderall?
It was found that among college students, men were more likely to misuse Adderall

over the counter adderall The prevalence Adderall misuse among college students

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a legal amphetamine, containing both D- and L-amphetamine. In chemistry terms, D- and L- versions of molecules are mirror images of each other and have different effects as a result. While D-amphetamine is more potent, L-amphetamine lasts longer in the body [1]

Adderall works by increasing your brain’s levels of dopamine and noradrenaline to help you stay focused and motivated. Dopamine increases the amount of effort you’re willing to make in order to achieve something. Even if you enjoy something, low dopamine can wipe out your motivation to do it [2]

Restoring levels of the neurotransmitter can therefore leave you feeling much better, as you’re able to work towards your goals more effectively. 

What Is Over the Counter Adderall?

As a prescription-only drug, you can’t buy Adderall over the counter. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also classifies Adderall as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. This is because of its addictive potential and presence on the black market as a study drug [1]

What’s the Closest Thing to Adderall Over the Counter?

The closest and safest thing to buying Adderall over the counter is a class of supplements known as nootropics. These are natural Adderall alternatives with more positive side effects, such as an increase in brain regeneration rates or antioxidant support, and fewer (if any) negative side effects. The effect of nootropics on cognitive functions is, overall, milder yet broader. 

What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics are nutrients, herbal remedies, and some pharmaceuticals that are chosen or designed to boost brain function. Most earn a place in this category by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin [3]

How Do Nootropics Work?

Some ingredients in nootropic supplements have other benefits, too. These include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support, which protects neurons from the everyday damage that can build up over time. Others increase the rate of natural brain regeneration, boost blood flow, increase cellular energy production, and balance brain waves. 

What Are the Natural Ingredients in Nootropics?

Some of the best ingredients in nootropics include:

  • Citicoline.
  • Rhodiola rosea.
  • L-tyrosine.
  • Ginkgo biloba.
  • Bacopa monnieri.
  • Phosphatidylserine.
  • Coenzyme Q10.
  • Vitamin B12.

Citicoline

Citicoline is a safe supplemental version of choline, used to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Clinical studies show improved performance on cognitive health tests, in both accuracy and reaction time, as well as brain wave patterns that indicate better focus. These same brainwave patterns are used to differentiate between people with and without ADHD [4]

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a herbal medicine gaining popularity in the West as part of nootropics for energy. The natural substance increases levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, and acetylcholine while reducing the stress hormone cortisol. In human clinical studies, rhodiola shows the ability to improve concentration, mental energy, and mood [5]

over the counter adderall The effects of Rhodiola Rosea on general fatigue, mental fatigue, and reduced motivation
Rhodiola Rosea showed to reduce all three complaints. Although, it had the greatest impact on general fatigue
Source: https://www.karger.com/Article/Fulltext/457918

L-Tyrosine

L-tyrosine is an amino acid used to produce dopamine and noradrenaline, making it a direct natural Adderall alternative. Most clinical trials show beneficial effects of tyrosine on cognition, although some only demonstrate short-term improvements that are not sustained after supplementation ends [6]

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a popular inclusion in nootropics for memory. It can improve blood flow to the brain, as seen on imaging studies during both short-term (four weeks) and long-term (eight months) supplementation. Healthy younger volunteers and those with age-related cognitive decline have shown improvements in focus and memory retention.

over the counter adderall Brain-cognition effects of Ginkgo Biloba extract examined through a cognitive test
The Ginkgo Biloba group saw a greater increase in accuracy during a cognitive test, than the placebo group
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166615/

As for ADHD, ginkgo may be a useful ingredient in natural Adderall alternatives. Two clinical studies have shown improvements in symptoms, alongside better circulation to the brain and increased levels of neurotransmitters including noradrenaline [7]

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri can boost focus alongside cognitive processing speed. Its effects on the brain include an increase in dopamine, acetylcholine, and GABA, along with decreased cortisol. This is the main stress hormone that impairs cognitive function. 

A standardized extract of Bacopa monnieri has been shown to relieve some symptoms of ADHD, possibly demonstrating itself to be an Adderall alternative. Inattention, poor self-control, impulsivity, and restlessness all were relieved by Bacopa monnieri extract [7]

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine has shown benefits for brain functioning, specifically in cases of ADHD. Short-term memory, impulsivity, and inattention all improved in one study of phosphatidylserine, with no negative side effects. It increases the brain chemicals dopamine, glutamate, and acetylcholine, all essential for cognitive performance [8].

Additionally, phosphatidylserine is one of the long-term cognitive enhancers, as it improves brain regeneration. Research shows that it assists nerve growth factor transport through neurons, supporting their repair and growth [9]

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is essential for cellular energy production and acts as an antioxidant in the mitochondria. These are the energy-producing centers of the cell and are perhaps exposed to more oxidative stress than any other part of the body. What’s more, coenzyme Q10 could even support the production of new neurons. 

Much of the age-related decline in cognitive function is caused by impaired brain regeneration, which falls by 80% from young adulthood to older age. It’s made even worse by the destructive plaque seen in Alzheimer’s disease, too. Coenzyme Q10 may rescue neural stem cells in this situation, by acting on genes important for cellular survival [10]

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 supports neurotransmitter production by aiding homocysteine metabolism, which prevents inflammation and oxidative stress. Even better, vitamin B12 assists in myelin synthesis. This is the fatty sheath that protects brain and nerve cells and allows them to efficiently communicate [11]

The Five Best Over-the-Counter Adderall Alternatives

With so many supplements out to boost brain performance, we thought we’d review five of the best brain supplements.

Mind Lab Pro – Best Overall

over the counter adderall

Feature

Description

Star Rating

Price

$69.00 per bottle

4/5

Nootropic actions

Energy production, neurotransmitters, neuroprotection, circulation, brain wave regulation, and regeneration

5/5 

Neurotransmitter support

Dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, acetylcholine, and GABA

5/5

Neuroregeneration support

With lion’s mane and phosphatidylserine

5/5 

Evidence supplied to customers

Referenced on website

5/5 

Pros: 

  • All-round nootropic support for cognitive enhancement.
  • Ingredients demonstrated efficacy in healthy and chronic illness states.
  • Includes lion’s mane extract to enhance brain regeneration.
  • No “single task” ingredients.
  • No proprietary formulas; complete transparency.

Cons: 

  • Cost is over $4 per daily dose.
  • May contain subtherapeutic doses of some ingredients.

Mind Lab Pro leaves no stone unturned. All ingredients have multiple functions; for example, ginkgo biloba provides cellular protection and boosts blood flow, while L-theanine is able to modulate brain waves and support neurotransmitter production. 

This list of benefits makes Mind Lab Pro one of the best Adderall alternatives, particularly if you are looking to boost your overall performance. As L-theanine is a calming ingredient through increased GABA production, you can also enjoy a more relaxed mood and improved sleep [12]. Adderall, on the other hand, can cause insomnia and irritability [1]

Bottom Line: 

Mind Lab Pro is the best Adderall alternative to improve brain health and enhance cognitive function. With support for brain regeneration, stress-relieving properties, and more, the side effects of Adderall are replaced with side benefits. 

Performance Lab Mind – Best for Key Ingredients

over the counter adderall

Feature

Description

Star Rating

Price

$69.00

4/5

Nootropic actions

Neurotransmitter support, neuroregeneration, brain wave regulation, and antioxidant protection

4.5/5

Neurotransmitter support

Dopamine, noradrenaline, and acetylcholine

4.5/5

Neuroregeneration support

Via phosphatidylserine

4.5/5

Evidence supplied to customers

Evidence described but no reference given 

3/5

Pros: 

  • Lower cost per dose, at a little over $2 per day.
  • Powerful antioxidant support with maritime pine bark extract.
  • Dopamine and noradrenaline support.
  • Citicoline for brain wave regulation.

Cons: 

  • No references provided for science behind ingredients.
  • No explanation for superiority of Ajipure tyrosine formulation. 

A more streamlined supplement with only four ingredients, Performance Lab Mind is still one of the best natural Adderall alternatives. Including the amino acid tyrosine to boost dopamine and noradrenaline production and support for neuroregeneration and antioxidant status, it is our second pick. Learn more in this Performance Lab review

Protection through antioxidant support and the promotion of brain cell regeneration can make Performance Lab Mind your go-to OTC Adderall if you’re coming off the drug. Adderall withdrawal, possibly including missing or taking your next dose a little later, increases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol [13]. This damages the brain cells and impairs cell regeneration [14].

Bottom Line:

With antioxidant power, stress relief, and pro-repair effects accompanying neurotransmitter support, Performance Lab Mind may help you recover from the effects of long-term Adderall use. 

NooCube – Best for Fast Results 

over the counter adderall

Feature

Description

Star Rating

Price

$59.00 

5/5

Nootropic actions

Neurotransmitter support, antioxidant action, and brain wave regulation

4/5

Neurotransmitter support

Dopamine, noradrenaline, GABA, and acetylcholine

5/5

Neuroregeneration support

No direct support

3/5

Evidence supplied to customers

All ingredients represented in a full reference list

5/5

Pros: 

  • Ingredients have shown clinical benefits in healthy volunteers and those with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Broad-spectrum cognitive benefits through neurotransmitter stimulation.
  • Calming effect of oat straw and L-theanine.
  • Powerful antioxidant effect of cat’s claw extract.

Cons: 

  • Contains gluten from oat straw.
  • No direct brain regeneration support.

With some of its neurotransmitter-boosting benefits taking effect in hours, NooCube may be one of the closest natural Adderall replacements. For example, green oat extract has shown to improve performance speed, executive function, and word recall after just one dose in people with mild age-related cognitive decline [15]

Bottom Line: 

If you’re looking for speedy relief from brain fog, you may have come to the right place with NooCube—unless you’re gluten intolerant. 

Qualia Mind – Best for Brain Nutrition 

over the counter adderall

Feature

Description

Star Rating

Price

$119.00 (after first bottle)

3/5

Nootropic actions

Antioxidant support, neurotransmitter production, neuroregeneration, brain wave regulation, boosts circulation, and cellular energy production

5/5

Neurotransmitter support

Acetylcholine, dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, and GABA

5/5

Neuroregeneration support

Via phosphatidylserine

4/5

Evidence supplied to customers

Scientific evidence available for some ingredients on a separate page

3/5

Pros: 

  • Broad-spectrum cellular energy production support with B vitamins and more.
  • Range of neurotransmitters supported, including several ingredients for acetylcholine.
  • Powerful antioxidant ingredients for cellular protection.

Cons: 

  • Higher doses required to reach therapeutic levels for the large number of ingredients.

Qualia Mind aims to do everything, with its longer ingredients list and higher dosage. Individual ingredients often have more than one benefit each, including the powerful antioxidant pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ). Not only is it stronger than vitamin C, but it may also boost brain regeneration via nerve growth factor and reduce cortisol [16]

It is this cortisol reduction that makes Qualia Mind another potentially helpful Adderall alternative, especially if you are coming off the drug and wishing to increase your mental and physical energy. 

Bottom Line: 

Qualia Mind takes acting as a brain food supplement to the next level with its comprehensive ingredient list. 

BrainPill – Best Circulation Boost

over the counter adderall

Feature

Description

Star Rating

Price

$69.95

4/5

Nootropic actions

Neurotransmitter support, neuroregeneration, brain wave regulation, cellular energy production, brain wave regulation, and antioxidant support

4/5

Neurotransmitter support

Dopamine, noradrenaline, GABA, acetylcholine, and serotonin

4/5

Neuroregeneration support

Via phosphatidylserine

4/5

Evidence supplied to customers

No links to peer-reviewed articles; scientific evidence listed only. 

3/5

Pros: 

  • Essential B vitamins involved in neurotransmitter and cellular energy production.
  • Support with mental clarity and memory retention with acetylcholine-boosters.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects of DHA and antioxidants in ginkgo.

Cons: 

  • Contains titanium dioxide, which has a questionable safety profile [17]
  • Little transparency available with scientific evidence. 

Brain Pill contains many of the natural herbs, essential vitamins, and other nutrients commonly found in natural alternatives to Adderall. Vinpocetine, however, is a unique ingredient of Brain Pill, which has demonstrated the ability to enhance circulation and cellular energy production in neurons. This includes clinical studies on post-stroke patients, where circulation has been interrupted [18]

Bottom Line:

Brain Pill shines in its broad support for neurotransmitter production and circulation. However, poor ingredient transparency and the inclusion of titanium dioxide knock off a few points. 

Other Adderall Alternatives

Certain diet and lifestyle changes, energy supplements, and even prescription medication can act as good Adderall alternatives, alone or alongside nootropic supplements. 

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

Certain nutrients boost brain health over time. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish can significantly improve ADHD-related symptoms, such as poor attention span and impulsivity. Omega-3 fatty acids benefit cell growth and signaling, as well as dopamine and serotonin production [7]

Overall, a Mediterranean dietary pattern may improve mental cognition and is the best way to prevent cognitive impairment. A diet rich in whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, and herbs can give essential antioxidant and neurotransmitter support. It is not powerful enough to be a natural alternative to Adderall alone, so is best used alongside natural nootropics [3]

Energy Drinks

Some energy drinks contain B vitamins for neurotransmitter production, alongside other energy boosters and caffeine for a short-term boost in mental performance. However, choose these with caution, as many contain high levels of sugar, too. 

Prescription Medication

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is a non-amphetamine ADHD medication that slows the removal of dopamine and noradrenaline, much like how SSRIs work with serotonin in depression. Peak levels of Ritalin appear in the blood from one to three hours, so it does not last as long as Adderall [19]

This may mean you can control the side effects more easily, by timing the dose to when you need it most. 

FAQ

Here is some more information on OTC Adderall and natural alternatives.

Can You Get Over the Counter Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription-only drug and categorized as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. It is therefore illegal to sell over the counter as a smart drug. As an alternative, nootropic brain supplements like Mind Lab Pro are available to purchase without a prescription.

What Medication Is Closest to Adderall?

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is one of the best Adderall alternatives when it comes to pharmaceutical drugs. Like Adderall, it increases levels of dopamine and noradrenaline. It is one of the shorter-acting smart drugs, with its levels peaking in the body at one to three hours [19]

Can You Get Adderall Without a Doctor?

As you require a doctor to write a prescription first, it is not possible to get Adderall without a doctor, unless your prescription includes refills. Some people illegally purchase Adderall as a smart drug through others who can get a prescription or obtain it through other means. This can be extremely dangerous, as you may have a serious adverse reaction but have no access to medical support.

Can You Buy Over the Counter Adderall in Walmart? 

You cannot buy Adderall over the counter in Walmart, because it is prescription-only. 

Conclusion

There are many OTC Adderall alternatives on the market today, aimed at stacking a range of ingredients to maximize cognitive performance and overall health benefits. Mind Lab Pro, followed by Performance Lab, NooCube, Qualia Mind, and Brain Pill, are standout natural supplements that can be used as a smart drug.

Their comprehensive formulations don’t stop at the support for dopamine and noradrenaline they need to act as alternatives to Adderall. They also add in brain regeneration boosts, cellular protection, improved brain energy production, and regulation of brain function. 

References:

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Adderall.” (2017) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/011522s043lbl.pdf
  2. Berke, Joshua D. “What does dopamine mean?.” Nature neuroscience vol. 21,6 (2018): 787-793. doi:10.1038/s41593-018-0152-y 
  3. Onaolapo, Adejoke Yetunde et al. “Brain Ageing, Cognition and Diet: A Review of the Emerging Roles of Food-Based Nootropics in Mitigating Age-related Memory Decline.” Current aging science vol. 12,1 (2019): 2-14. doi:10.2174/1874609812666190311160754 
  4. Bruce, Steven E et al. “Improvements in concentration, working memory and sustained attention following consumption of a natural citicoline-caffeine beverage.” International journal of food sciences and nutrition vol. 65,8 (2014): 1003-7. doi:10.3109/09637486.2014.940286 
  5. Olsson, Erik M et al. “A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue.” Planta medica vol. 75,2 (2009): 105-12. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1088346 
  6. Jongkees, Bryant J et al. “Effect of tyrosine supplementation on clinical and healthy populations under stress or cognitive demands–A review.” Journal of psychiatric research vol. 70 (2015): 50-7. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.08.014 
  7. Ahn, James et al. “Natural Product-Derived Treatments for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Safety, Efficacy, and Therapeutic Potential of Combination Therapy.” Neural plasticity vol. 2016 (2016): 1320423. doi:10.1155/2016/1320423 
  8. Hirayama, S et al. “The effect of phosphatidylserine administration on memory and symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association vol. 27 Suppl 2 (2014): 284-91. doi:10.1111/jhn.12090 
  9. Naftelberg, Shiran et al. “Phosphatidylserine improves axonal transport by inhibition of HDAC and has potential in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.” Neural regeneration research vol. 12,4 (2017): 534-537. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.205082 
  10. Choi, Hojin et al. “Coenzyme Q10 restores amyloid beta-inhibited proliferation of neural stem cells by activating the PI3K pathway.” Stem cells and development vol. 22,15 (2013): 2112-20. doi:10.1089/scd.2012.0604 
  11. Calderón-Ospina, Carlos Alberto, and Mauricio Orlando Nava-Mesa. “B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin.” CNS neuroscience & therapeutics vol. 26,1 (2020): 5-13. doi:10.1111/cns.13207 
  12. Park, Sang-Ki et al. “A combination of green tea extract and l-theanine improves memory and attention in subjects with mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled study.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 14,4 (2011): 334-43. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.1374 
  13. Bray, Brenna, et al. “Amphetamine withdrawal differentially affects hippocampal and peripheral corticosterone levels in response to stress.” Brain Research, 1644, (2016): 278–287. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2016.05.030 
  14. de Souza-Talarico, Juliana Nery et al. “Effects of stress hormones on the brain and cognition: Evidence from normal to pathological aging.” Dementia & neuropsychologia vol. 5,1 (2011): 8-16. doi:10.1590/S1980-57642011DN05010003 
  15. Kennedy, David O et al. “Acute effects of a wild green-oat (Avena sativa) extract on cognitive function in middle-aged adults: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects trial.” Nutritional neuroscience vol. 20,2 (2017): 135-151. doi:10.1080/1028415X.2015.1101304 
  16. Akagawa, Mitsugu et al. “Recent progress in studies on the health benefits of pyrroloquinoline quinone.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry vol. 80,1 (2016): 13-22. doi:10.1080/09168451.2015.1062715 
  17. Winkler, Hans Christian et al. “Critical review of the safety assessment of titanium dioxide additives in food.” Journal of nanobiotechnology vol. 16,1 51. 1 Jun. 2018, doi:10.1186/s12951-018-0376-8 
  18. Zhang, Yi-Shuai et al. “An update on vinpocetine: New discoveries and clinical implications.” European journal of pharmacology vol. 819 (2018): 30-34. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2017.11.041 
  19. Shellenberg, Thomas P et al. “An update on the clinical pharmacology of methylphenidate: therapeutic efficacy, abuse potential and future considerations.” Expert review of clinical pharmacology vol. 13,8 (2020): 825-833. doi:10.1080/17512433.2020.1796636

Benefits of L-Theanine: Weight Loss and Memory Boost

Benefits of L-Theanine: Weight Loss and Memory Boost

L-theanine has fantastic healing properties, according to peer-reviewed studies. They range from detox to better sleep quality, weight loss and even support cancer treatment. Although naturally occurring in tea, the functional food additive should also be taken with some precaution in supplement form.

This article is a simple guide to the key effects and uses of the compound, with recommendations to supplements and how best to use them.

Key Takeaways: L-Theanine Weight Loss and Memory Boost

  • L-theanine is a unique amino acid compound found in tea plants.
  • Its health benefits have been recognized since ancient times in Japan and China.
  • Scientific evidence shows that it can prevent and improve certain diseases or health problems, as well as improve cognitive function and reduce stress.
  • L-theanine is generally recognized as safe but should not be taken by pregnant or lactating women or children.
  • There are a variety of l-theanine supplements available.

L-Theanine: Overview

See below for a straightforward summary of what L-theanine is and how it could be effective in weight loss.

What Is It?

L-theanine is a naturally occurring compound from the camellia sinensis plant, or the tea plant. It is commonly found in green and black tea, as well as some mushrooms. 

Specifically, it is an amino acid, made of essential elements that combine to form proteins. They are highly important for many of the body’s vital functions.

Amino acids are not produced in the body and have to be consumed through food, drinks, or an L-theanine supplement.

How Does It Work?

L-theanine has many qualities that may be highly advantageous to health. The tumor reducing, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties found in tea, due to its L-theanine content, are key to these benefits. 

Inflammation is an outcome of many health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and arthritis. Therefore, green tea’s generalized anti-inflammatory effects may have benefits for all of these conditions.

The antioxidant properties of green tea include the ability to limit the number of free radicals in the body and increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes, helping to regulate cell development. This gives a detoxing effect and supports disease prevention.

For these reasons, L-theanine in green tea is also beneficial for cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and oral health problems [1]

L-theanine impacts neurological functioning because it can cross the blood-brain barrier and regulate hormones in the brain, positively impacting brain waves. This influences the central nervous system, reducing subjective stress, increasing subjective alertness, and enhancing mental focus [2]

Does L-Theanine Help With Weight Loss?

L-theanine is known for its anti-obesity effects, especially when combined with other ingredients. Green tea catechins and caffeine, which are also consumed when drinking green tea, are believed to enhance energy and boost metabolism—qualities generally associated with weight loss. However, peer-reviewed studies suggest this is not the main reason tea may be effective in weight loss [3].

In fact, green tea can alter digestive enzymes to reduce fat accumulation, which may be why it stops body weight increase. It can also decrease blood pressure and lowers cholesterol [1].

Dieticians suggest that green tea can also support weight loss for a more simple reason—drinking a cup of hot tea before a meal and staying hydrated can act as an appetite suppressant and lead to healthier food choices. If weight loss is important to you, talk with your dietician about the benefits of green tea.

L-theanine causes the savory flavor in green tea, which can reduce your appetite and essentially help you lose weight. The compound is also quite a powerful stress reducer and sleep aid, which are factors that contribute to weight loss as well [4].

L-Theanine Uses

L-theanine has been shown to have many other benefits to health, primarily:

l-theanine weight loss and memory boost

  • Boosting cognitive function.
  • Relieving stress and anxiety.
  • Improving immunity.
  • Increasing focus.
  • Enhancing treatment for cancer patients.
  • Possibly reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Boosts Cognitive Function

The calming effects of L-theanine are said to improve brain function. In a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of older people supplemented with L-theanine for 12 weeks, memory and reaction time improved during the period of the clinical trial [5].

This is likely due to the effect that L-theanine has on brain waves. Although it is thought that caffeine improves cognitive performance, research suggests that caffeine intake  actually reduces memory capacity. It is the mood-enhancing effect of L-theanine, its impact on objective sleep quality and wakefulness, that is responsible for the difference in executive function.

Relieves Stress and Anxiety 

Evidence shows the de-stressing effects of low caffeinated green tea consumption. Tests with animals where physical and psychological stresses were created then stress-related symptoms treated with L-theanine have shown favorable physiological stress responses [6].

This is because L-theanine has a direct effect on the brain. In another placebo-controlled clinical trial, L-theanine was shown to significantly increase alpha brain waves, which promotes alert relaxation without making you sleepy. This is also known as subjective wakefulness [7].

Stress caused by schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder has also been examined in its relationship with L-theanine. 

In a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 60 schizoaffective disorder patients participated in an 8-week trial. They received 400mg per day of L-theanine with their usual drug administration. Compared with the placebo group, the L-theanine group was associated with reducing anxiety [8].

According to a review of the evidence by academic research institutions, anxiety symptoms caused by all mental health problems can be helped safely with 200–400mg of L-theanine per day. This is thanks to its stimulation of alpha brain waves and effect on the central nervous system to promote relaxation [9].

Does L-Theanine have an effect on depression?

Does L-Theanine have an effect on depression?
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Does L-Theanine have an effect on depression?
L-Theanine showed to improve symptoms of depression

l-theanine weight loss and memory boost Effects of L-Theanine on depression

May Improve Immunity

Green tea has been shown to support the immune system in randomized controlled clinical trials.

In a medical exploration with rats, L-theanine’s results on immune function were positive [10].

This is because of L-theanine’s effect on the brain, including in the pituitary gland, impacting hormones. It also helps the body produce anti-inflammatory cytokines, a type of protein that can reduce inflammation caused by illness [11].

Increases Focus

A peer-reviewed study about L-theanine and caffeine stimulation to assess the possible treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder showed that L-theanine boosts focus, but caffeine does not. Though it is believed caffeine improves cognitive performance, it has a negative impact on memory and healthy sleep. 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is characterized by a lack of attention and ability to focus, as well as impulsive behavior. Alpha activity is known to play an essential role in improving attention span and cognitive performance [12].

The effects of L-theanine, even at levels that are realistic to normal intake from drinking tea daily, increases subjective alertness and contributes to a naturally enhanced state of focus [13].

L-Theanine increased focus significantly compared to the placebo group
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728665/

May Enhance Cancer Treatment 

Drinking tea has been shown to support the treatment of cancer alongside medical interventions. 

In an extensive study of 254 patients diagnosed with cancer, the group who increased their green tea consumption showed a more significant improvement than those who did not. Therefore, it was conclusive in the study that theanine enhances recovery as it increases cancer patients’ survival time due to its anticarcinogenic effects [14].

There are mixed views on the extent to which green tea can prevent cancer or support in its recovery. Further scientific research is available about how L-theanine compounds can affect the behavior of cells and prevent cancer. It is seen as a dietary supplement for general health benefits, though, as opposed to a cure [15].

May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease 

Alzeheimer’s is an inherited neurodegenerative condition whereby brain function, reactions, and memory decrease in old age to a point that severely interferes with daily life.

Research on how to prevent the condition or reduce the extent of deterioration it causes is becoming more prominent, and L-theanine has been tested for this reason.

In a 2018 review of tea drinking evidence relevant to Alezheimer’s, L-theanine is not yet a proven cure. However, with more clinical trials making this link, it could prove useful in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease [16].

L-Theanine Side Effects

L-theanine is not known to have any significant side effects, although there are a few points to consider if you are thinking of taking L-theanine.

Precautions and Warnings

The FDA classification of L-theanine is “generally recognized as safe,” which means an L-theanine supplement has no health risk if used as recommended [17].

However, there is limited research to show the effect that L-theanine may have on women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Therefore, it is not recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation. 

Animal studies whereby a higher dosage of L-theanine is administered have been associated with some liver damage due to toxicity—a general side effect of taking too much of a substance [18].

Science suggests daily doses ranging from 200 to 400 mg for up to 8 weeks are safe and have anti-stress effects [13].

Interactions

L-theanine may have a negative impact on health when combined with other pharmacological compounds [9].

Therefore, if you are on any other regular medication, it would be a good idea to inform your doctor if you are looking to start taking L-theanine supplements.

Best L-Theanine Weight Loss and Memory Boosting Nootropics 

Here is a quick guide to the best brain-enhancing nootropics for memory and weight loss on the market.

L-Theanine Weight Loss and Memory Boost

Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is a nootropic supplement that has some excellent reviews relating to its effect on mood and focus. It contains 100 mg of L-theanine alongside other plant-based enhancers and a mix of useful vitamins. The Mind Lab Pro review provides you with more detail of its results, but below is a snapshot of its pros and cons.

Pros

  • Heightens attention span and focus.
  • Enhances energy levels.
  • Positive effect on mood.

Cons

  • Relatively expensive.
  • Does not help you stay awake (though it is not stimulant medication).

NooCube

Similarly, NooCube is an over-the-counter supplement containing 100 mg of L-theanine and other herbs for enhancing focus and productivity. This NooCube review will give you a balance of opinions on the effectiveness of these nootropics for memory.

Pros

  • NooCube improves memory.
  • Improves mood.
  • Impacts focus and concentration.

Cons

  • May not have as much of an effect as marketed.

Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind is a blend of amino acid, including green tea extract and vitamins, with a similar goal to the other two nootropics for motivation—to enhance cognitive performance. 

Pros

  • Enhances mental clarity.
  • Enhances memory and focus.
  • Promotes long-term brain health.

Cons

  • Relatively expensive.
  • It has a lot of ingredients, some of which may not be very beneficial to the brain.

FAQ

Find your key questions about L-theanine answered here.

What Does L-Theanine Do for Anxiety?

L-theanine reduces anxiety by affecting hormones and brain alpha waves. They, in turn, affect the nervous system that leads to a feeling of calm wakefulness.

L-theanine helps with restful sleep too. Its effects on objective sleep quality are known for improving mood and cognition.

How Do You Take Theanine for Anxiety?

L-theanine is from green tea catechins; therefore, you can simply just drink green tea. White and black tea also contain some of it, to a lesser extent.

Alternatively, it can be supplemented as part of a healthy diet with nootropics.

Should You Take L-Theanine at Night?

Yes, it should be fine to take it at night and may even improve sleep quality.

How Long Does It Take for L-Theanine To Start Working?

According to reviews, supplements can start working in as quickly as 20 minutes. Effects may then last up to 10 hours.

However, it would be worth considering incorporating a suitable amount of L-theanine into your dietary habits for a longer-term effect.

Conclusion 

Reviews aside, the science of L-theanine is something we should know about. Eastern cultures have benefited from long-term health for millennia, which could be related to tea consumption. 

Whether you want to boost and impact your cognition quickly through supplementation or are simply inspired to drink more healthy tea, L-theanine would be a great change in your diet for health promotion.

References

  1. Reygaert, Wanda C. “Green Tea CATECHINS: Their Use in Treating and PREVENTING Infectious Diseases.” BioMed Research International, Hindawi, 17 July 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6076941/. 
  2. Li, Chengjian, et al. “L-Theanine Improves Immunity by Altering Th2/th1 Cytokine BALANCE, BRAIN Neurotransmitters, and Expression of Phospholipase C in RAT HEARTS.” Medical Science Monitor : International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research, International Scientific Literature, Inc., 28 Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772912/. 
  3. Jurgens TM;Whelan AM;Killian L;Doucette S;Kirk S;Foy E; “Green Tea for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance in Overweight or Obese Adults.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23235664/. 
  4. Hidese, S., Ogawa, S., Ota, M., Ishida, I., Yasukawa, Z., Ozeki, M., & Kunugi, H. (2019). Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 11(10), 2362. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102362
  5. Baba Y;Inagaki S;Nakagawa S;Kaneko T;Kobayashi M;Takihara T; “Effects of l-Theanine on Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Subjects: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study.” Journal of Medicinal Food, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33751906/. 
  6. Unno K;Hara A;Nakagawa A;Iguchi K;Ohshio M;Morita A;Nakamura Y; “Anti-Stress Effects of Drinking Green Tea with Lowered Caffeine and Enriched Theanine, Epigallocatechin and Arginine on Psychosocial Stress Induced Adrenal Hypertrophy in Mice.” Phytomedicine : International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27765356/. 
  7. GN;, Nobre AC;Rao A;Owen. “L-Theanine, a Natural Constituent in Tea, and Its Effect on Mental State.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18296328/. 
  8. Ritsner MS;Miodownik C;Ratner Y;Shleifer T;Mar M;Pintov L;Lerner V; “L-Theanine Relieves Positive, Activation, and Anxiety Symptoms in Patients with Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder: An 8-Week, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, 2-Center Study.” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21208586/. 
  9. Lopes Sakamoto F;Metzker Pereira Ribeiro R;Amador Bueno A;Oliveira Santos H; “Psychotropic Effects of l-Theanine and Its Clinical Properties: From the Management of Anxiety and Stress to a Potential Use in Schizophrenia.” Pharmacological Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31412272/. 
  10. Li, Chengjian, et al. “L-Theanine Improves Immunity by Altering Th2/th1 Cytokine BALANCE, BRAIN Neurotransmitters, and Expression of Phospholipase C in RAT HEARTS.” Medical Science Monitor : International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research, International Scientific Literature, Inc., 28 Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772912/. 
  11. Zhang, Jun-Ming, and Jianxiong An. “Cytokines, Inflammation, and Pain.” International Anesthesiology Clinics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2785020/. 
  12. Kahathuduwa, Chanaka N., et al. “Effects of l-Theanine–Caffeine Combination on Sustained Attention and Inhibitory Control among Children with Adhd: A Proof-of-Concept Neuroimaging Rct.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 4 Aug. 2020, www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-70037-7. 
  13. GN;, Nobre AC;Rao A;Owen. “L-Theanine, a Natural Constituent in Tea, and Its Effect on Mental State.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18296328/. 
  14. Zhang, Min, et al. “Green Tea Consumption Enhances Survival of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 23 June 2004, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ijc.20456. 
  15. Miyata, Yasuyoshi, et al. “Anticancer Effects of Green Tea and the Underlying Molecular Mechanisms in Bladder Cancer.” Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 10 Aug. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164790/. 
  16. Polito, Curt Anthony, et al. “Association of Tea Consumption with Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and ANTI-BETA-AMYLOID Effects of Tea.” Nutrients, MDPI, 22 May 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986534/#sec4-nutrients-10-00655title. 
  17. “Gras Notices.” Cfsanappsexternal.fda.gov, www.cfsanappsexternal.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/index.cfm?set=GrASNotices&id=209. 
  18. Lopes Sakamoto F;Metzker Pereira Ribeiro R;Amador Bueno A;Oliveira Santos H; “Psychotropic Effects of l-Theanine and Its Clinical Properties: From the Management of Anxiety and Stress to a Potential Use in Schizophrenia.” Pharmacological Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31412272/. 

Dealing With Adderall Tolerance

Dealing With Adderall Tolerance

Perhaps you’ve been using Adderall as a study pill, whether you take it every day or during exam periods. Or maybe you have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and have been seeking treatment for years. In either case, you tried Adderall and felt like you found the right medication. But now, everything seems to be going wrong. 

Adderall tolerance is a very real and distressing issue. Although you may feel amazing on Adderall, drug tolerance is your brain and liver’s way of protecting you from potentially harmful effects. So how does it happen, and what can we do to reverse it? 

Key Takeaways: Adderall Tolerance

  • Adderall is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and is also abused as a study pill.
  • It works by increasing dopamine and noradrenaline, which can be life-changing until you develop tolerance.
  • Like many drugs, the liver can become more efficient at removing Adderall from the body, reducing the therapeutic benefit.
  • Other factors include reduced dopamine production in response to the drug, or even damage to the neurons that make use of the neurotransmitter.
  • It is common to need a larger dose of Adderall or other stimulant medication after several months.
  • Simple diet and lifestyle changes, alongside nootropic supplements, can help you stick to a low dose or quit Adderall use.

What Is Adderall Tolerance?

Adderall tolerance is an example of the biological process where a previously effective prescription medication becomes less effective over time. In some ways, it is in fact a normal, healthy response to taking a drug for a long period. However, a long-term lack of response could indicate serious issues. 

What Causes Adderall Tolerance?

How Adderall works is through an increase of your levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, and certain other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin [1]. Your body responds to this by turning down the production of these neurotransmitters. This is why missing a dose, or Adderall withdrawal, can leave you feeling terrible. 

The vast majority of physiological processes are controlled by negative feedback loops. High levels of substances such as neurotransmitters or hormones will then turn their production down, so they don’t reach dangerously high concentrations. While it’s easy to feel like your body is betraying you, this is a protective response. 

Additionally, with repeated exposure to certain substances, your liver ramps up detoxification. You may remember your first time trying alcohol, and how you were much more sensitive then than now. Or, if you don’t drink often, you’re more sensitive than your friends who drink regularly. This is because the parts of your liver cells that produce detoxification enzymes increase in number, as a specific response to Adderall [2]

Research suggests that tolerance is more likely with continuous doses of the drug, instead of occasional high doses. Shorter-term high doses are often used in animal research to test the effects of long-term Adderall use, but continuous smaller doses are more relevant to how we actually take the drug [3]

Why Is My Adderall Not Working Anymore?

A gradual, persistent loss of response to Adderall could indicate something more serious. Lab research points to the possibility that real-world doses of the drug may eventually damage dopaminergic neurons. Both dopamine and dopamine transporters significantly declined in primates taking realistic Adderall doses. 

This could stop you from responding to the drug, as you aren’t making enough dopamine for it to work with. However, children seem to be better protected and may not build tolerance through this mechanism. As more children use Adderall than adults, we haven’t picked up this adverse effect yet [4].

Damage to the neurons may be partly caused by high levels of cortisol. If you miss a dose of Adderall, or worse, go through the Adderall crash, cortisol rises in response to the sudden fall in dopamine. Through oxidative stress, cortisol not only damages the neurons you already have but also impairs the growth and development of new ones [5] [6]

Research comparing amphetamined drugs (tested with MDMA), Ritalin, and modafinil found that, out of the three prescription stimulants, only the amphetamines raised cortisol. 

While the placebo group’s cortisol levels were only 630nmol/L, those taking MDMA had an average cortisol concentration of 942nmol/L. MDMA is a stronger, illegal amphetamine, but Adderall may have a milder effect [7]

Adderall Tolerance Build Up: What To Know

Your body gets used to Adderall sooner than you think, but the most important thing is to stay safe. 

How Long Does It Take for Adderall Tolerance?

The early signs of Adderall tolerance may even start within a few days. A study involving healthy men and women, with no ADHD or other disorder, showed the beginnings of tolerance after only three doses spread over five days. Just one dose significantly increased blinking rate, but after the third, this fell back to levels seen in the placebo group. 

On the other hand, energy (measured as vigor) was higher after three doses than one alone. This means that while you develop a tolerance early, you are unlikely to see any negative effects of this for quite some time [8]

Noticeable Adderall tolerance can take weeks or months to appear. A study involving children with ADHD taking Ritalin, another stimulant, showed that the average child needed one or two dosage increases over the course of 10 months. 

For children taking ADHD every day, there was an average of 1.79 dosage increases. However, having an “Adderall holiday” on the weekends reduced this down to 1.61 increases in their dose. 

This means occasionally using the drug as a study pill, or reserving it for the most difficult periods of the semester, is less likely to cause tolerance. If you have ADHD, taking breaks could mean you will reach tolerance to your current dose a little slower, but use caution to avoid Adderall withdrawal symptoms [9]

What Adderall Dosage Works Best?

If you need stimulants for medical reasons, do not use larger doses of Adderall than what has been prescribed to you. The upper limit for the drug is set at 40 mg per day for ADHD symptoms, and up to 60 mg per day for narcolepsy. The right dose for you depends on how well you respond to Adderall. Only your doctor can determine this, as it is individual [1]

In research revealing tolerance through a loss of dopaminergic neurons, the response of the serotonin system was unchanged. One of the dangers of Adderall is therefore the perceived need to take higher doses because you could be at risk of serotonin syndrome. 

Depending on the severity, serotonin syndrome can involve anything from a faster heart rate and rest under medical supervision, to organ damage and intensive care [10]

How To Make Adderall Work Again: 6 Simple Tips

If you’re missing the benefits of Adderall, there are simple ways to make your ADHD drugs work better for you again without turning to Adderall abuse. You may have been eating foods that impair absorption, leading to an easy misunderstanding that the stimulant medications have stopped working. 

On the other hand, there is hope if your dopaminergic systems have been burnt out by stimulant medication use. While impaired dopamine responses have been documented up to three years after quitting the drug, they slowly improve even without intervention [11]

adderall tolerance

1. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can make you feel terrible and increase cortisol levels [12]. The discomfort of dehydration may paint a higher dose of Adderall in a more tempting light, while cortisol contributes to brain cell damage. What’s more, a tall glass of water alongside Adderall can dilute your stomach acid, which aids absorption [1]

2. Avoid Citrus Juice

Dietary acids, such as citric acid, are known to reduce the absorption of amphetamines from the intestines and into the bloodstream. All citrus fruits are particularly rich in these, so it’s best to avoid them and even more so around the time when you take your medication [1]

3. Don’t Miss Breakfast

It doesn’t matter how busy you are; don’t skip meals, including breakfast. Taking Adderall on an empty stomach may reduce its absorption as your digestive system’s pH is more acidic. 

Some nutrients can aid neurotransmitter systems too. For example, choline may increase your levels of dopamine receptors in the reward system [13]. Eggs are one of the best natural sources of choline, whether they are fried, scrambled, or boiled. 

4. Avoid Vitamin C in the Evenings

The technical term for vitamin C is ascorbic acid—yes, it’s an acid too! Like citric acid, it can impair the absorption of amphetamines such as Adderall. Do not take vitamin C near your dose of Adderall; if you need both, separate them by a few hours [1]

5. Develop Healthy Sleep Patterns

Healthy sleeping patterns keep your levels of cortisol within the correct rhythms. This protects your brain against damage in the long term and can assist in the restoration of neurotransmitter systems as a result. 

What’s more, you are likely to feel better mentally. A common psychological cause of taking Adderall is a lack of coping skills and self-care, as stimulant drugs may be seen as all you need [14]. Making healthy lifestyle choices now could improve your overall wellbeing and prevent Adderall addiction to fill the gaps.

6. Know When To See a Doctor

If your ADHD symptoms are returning to their pre-medication state, and you’re still taking Adderall at the recommended dose, it’s best to see a doctor. It may be tempting to experiment with higher doses, but this can be dangerous, especially without medical supervision. 

Sometimes, it may be best for you to have a break from taking Adderall (and possibly other stimulant medication) or change over to other drugs entirely. Adderall is often recommended for shorter-term use only due to potential long-term effects [1]

Adderall Tolerance Reset Supplements

If you want to prevent Adderall tolerance or take low doses instead, there are nootropic supplements that can help increase dopamine and noradrenaline. This means they can prevent you from developing tolerance, compensate for falling Adderall efficacy, or even replace the drugs altogether. As a result, they are often described as OTC Adderall, or natural Adderall

Many people who abuse Adderall also prefer to transition onto nootropics to benefit neurological health and prevent future substance abuse as they are not addictive. If this is you, a medically supervised tapering program may still be necessary, especially if you take a high dose.

Mind Lab Pro

Adderall tolerance

Mind Lab Pro is a comprehensive nootropic stack with 11 ingredients targeting the underlying drivers of healthy brain function. 

Some, such as Bacopa monnieri, assist in the production of dopamine and noradrenaline [15]. Citicoline is a safer supplemental version of choline, which helps to increase dopamine receptor counts [13]. These benefits can help prevent tolerance to Adderall and keep you at your original dose, or soothe withdrawal symptoms if you want to quit abusing Adderall.

Other ingredients can deal with the consequences of long-term stimulant treatment for ADHD or drug abuse to help you feel normal. For example, lion’s mane is a widely appreciated brain and nerve regenerator, able to boost cognition by supporting the growth and development of new brain cells [16]

For more information, read the full Mind Lab Pro review here. 

Performance Lab 

Adderall tolerance

Performance Lab is a streamlined nootropic that still hits all the right targets if you want to manage your ADHD symptoms more effectively, or no longer abuse Adderall. It contains tyrosine, citicoline, phosphatidylserine, and maritime pine bark extract. 

Phosphatidylserine can help you recover from Adderall misuse or other stimulant drug abuse by assisting the repair of neurons [17]. Maritime pine bark is a potent antioxidant, able to end the cycle of oxidative stress and cell damage seen with high cortisol or neurotransmitter toxicity [18]

See this Performance Lab Nootropics review for everything you need to know. 

FAQ

What are the most important things we need to know about Adderall tolerance?

Does Adderall Become Less Effective Over Time?

ADHD medications, including Adderall, begin losing their potency within a few days. This will likely begin as reduced severity of side effects, but it is common to need an increased dose after several weeks or months. 

Does Adderall Cause Drug Tolerance?

Both normal physiological processes and Adderall itself cause you to develop a tolerance. The same mechanisms of liver detoxification that make you more able to handle alcohol can also cause you to metabolize Adderall faster. By dialing down dopamine signaling and potentially causing neurotoxicity, taking the drug every day for long periods leads to tolerance too.  

Can You Build a Tolerance To Amphetamines?

Research described above has demonstrated a tolerance through the dopaminergic pathways, but the serotonergic system does not necessarily follow. With a partial tolerance, you may still be vulnerable to serotonin syndrome symptoms if you increase your dose without supervision or past the safe range. 

Conclusion

Adderall tolerance is the result of several biological processes where your detoxification ability speeds up, neurotransmitter production falls, and dopaminergic systems face potential damage. If your study success is falling back into a nightmare, nootropic supplements can be a safer, more effective alternative to the drug.

If you require stimulant medication, there are ways you can maintain the drug’s therapeutic effects. Through nootropic supplements, keeping healthy lifestyle habits, and managing stomach acidity around your Adderall doses, you can stay on top of your ADHD symptoms. 

References:

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Adderall.” (2017) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/011522s043lbl.pdf 
  2. Tortora, Gerald J. & Derrickson, B. “Principles of anatomy & physiology.” Wiley (2011).
  3. Turner, Amy C et al. “Repeated intermittent oral amphetamine administration results in locomotor tolerance not sensitization.” Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) vol. 32,8 (2018): 949-954. doi:10.1177/0269881118763984 
  4. Ricaurte, George A et al. “Amphetamine treatment similar to that used in the treatment of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder damages dopaminergic nerve endings in the striatum of adult nonhuman primates.” The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics vol. 315,1 (2005): 91-8. doi:10.1124/jpet.105.087916
  5. Bray, Brenna, et al. “Amphetamine withdrawal differentially affects hippocampal and peripheral corticosterone levels in response to stress.” Brain Research, 1644, (2016): 278–287. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2016.05.030 
  6. de Souza-Talarico, Juliana Nery et al. “Effects of stress hormones on the brain and cognition: Evidence from normal to pathological aging.” Dementia & neuropsychologia vol. 5,1 (2011): 8-16. doi:10.1590/S1980-57642011DN05010003 
  7. Dolder, Patrick C et al. “Direct comparison of the acute subjective, emotional, autonomic, and endocrine effects of MDMA, methylphenidate, and modafinil in healthy subjects.” Psychopharmacology vol. 235,2 (2018): 467-479. doi:10.1007/s00213-017-4650-5 
  8. Strakowski, S M et al. “Human response to repeated low-dose d-amphetamine: evidence for behavioral enhancement and tolerance.” Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology vol. 25,4 (2001): 548-54. doi:10.1016/S0893-133X(01)00253-6 
  9. Pelham, William E, and James M Swanson. “Examining Tolerance to CNS Stimulants in ADHD.” Clinicaltrials.gov, 22 Jan. 2013, clinicaltrials.gov/ProvidedDocs/08/NCT02039908/Prot_SAP_000.pdf.
  10. Wang, Robert Z et al. “Serotonin syndrome: Preventing, recognizing, and treating it.” Cleveland Clinic journal of medicine vol. 83,11 (2016): 810-817. doi:10.3949/ccjm.83a.15129 
  11. Hayley, Amie C et al. “Amphetamine-induced alteration to gaze parameters: A novel conceptual pathway and implications for naturalistic behavior.” Progress in neurobiology vol. 199 (2021): 101929. doi:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2020.101929 
  12. Zaplatosch, Mitchell E, and William M Adams. “The Effect of Acute Hypohydration on Indicators of Glycemic Regulation, Appetite, Metabolism and Stress: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Nutrients vol. 12,9 2526. 20 Aug. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12092526 
  13. Giménez, R et al. “Changes in brain striatum dopamine and acetylcholine receptors induced by chronic CDP-choline treatment of aging mice.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 104,3 (1991): 575-8. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.1991.tb12471.x
  14. Yanofski, Jason. “The Dopamine Dilemma-Part II: Could Stimulants Cause Tolerance, Dependence, and Paradoxical Decompensation?.” Innovations in clinical neuroscience vol. 8,1 (2011): 47-53.
  15. Aguiar, Sebastian, and Thomas Borowski. “Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri.” Rejuvenation research vol. 16,4 (2013): 313-26. doi:10.1089/rej.2013.1431 
  16. Friedman, Mendel. “Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry vol. 63,32 (2015): 7108-23. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02914 
  17. Naftelberg, Shiran et al. “Phosphatidylserine improves axonal transport by inhibition of HDAC and has potential in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.” Neural regeneration research vol. 12,4 (2017): 534-537. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.205082 
  18. Malekahmadi, Mahsa et al. “The effect of French maritime pine bark extract supplementation on inflammation, nutritional and clinical status in critically ill patients with traumatic brain injury: A randomized controlled trial.” Phytotherapy research : PTR, 10.1002/ptr.7187. 12 Aug. 2021, doi:10.1002/ptr.7187 

Adderall Withdrawal: Symptoms And Management

Adderall Withdrawal: Symptoms And Management

If you have Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), chances are you’ve been prescribed Adderall, but for many people the side effects are too much to manage and the possibility of addiction is too real. 

So how do you quit Adderall safely without the adverse effects and anxiety?

In this article, we’ll show you what to expect during Adderall withdrawal, and what the options are when it comes to relief so you can avoid the crash.

Key Takeaways: Adderall Crash

  • Adderall withdrawal symptoms can be so distressing that they turn a difficult semester or recreational experimentation into long-term substance abuse.
  • Common “crash” and post-acute withdrawal symptoms include depression, fatigue, and hypersomnia (excessive sleep), with psychosis being a more serious manifestation.
  • Managing withdrawal symptoms can involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication such as antidepressants, and slowly tapering off the drug.
  • Long-term consequences of substance abuse with Adderall may include damage to the neurotransmitter pathways and brain shrinkage.
  • Some supplements marketed as nootropics may help by supporting dopamine production.

What Is Adderall Withdrawal?

Adderall withdrawal is the effect of your body no longer relying on the drug for neurological support or stimulation. Similar to other types of amphetamine withdrawal, it generally involves dysphoria (sadness or other unpleasant moods), sleeping too much or too little, fatigue, increased appetite, and impaired motor function. More severe cases can include paranoia and intense cravings for Adderall. 

The Adderall crash is the acute phase of your withdrawal period, which appears in 24 hours and unfortunately lasts for around a week. Poor sleep quality with a longer sleep duration by two to three hours, and brain fog are common issues [1]. These withdrawal symptoms are a significant reason why Adderall addiction is difficult to beat.

What Causes Adderall Withdrawal?

Adderall works by increasing the release of the neurotransmitters, dopamine and noradrenaline and slows the reabsorption process. Because Adderall keeps the neurotransmitter levels up, the body doesn’t produce much on its own. However, when you stop taking the drug, you’re faced with a significant drop in dopamine and noradrenaline, and the body must readjust causing Adderall withdrawal symptoms [2].   

Dopamine plays an essential role in motor function and keeping you motivated. With enough dopamine, you generally feel more inspired to take action. It also helps to reinforce learning new information, strengthening memory with revised information, and improving knowledge on a particular topic [3]

The body’s physiological processes are kept in balance by negative feedback loops. For example, when you have sufficiently high levels of dopamine, your neurons will turn down their rate of dopamine production. Once levels fall again, production resumes [4]

Withdrawal Symptoms: What To Expect

The symptoms of Adderall withdrawal are both physical and psychological. Even though they are very unpleasant, knowing what to expect can help you ride the wave to an Adderall-free life. 

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Adderall improves your endurance, energy, reaction times, mood, and motivation, making it easier to achieve your goals. Psychological and emotional symptoms of withdrawal from Adderall involve a sudden loss of this support as your body has likely become physically dependent on it. 

Quitting Adderall cold turkey can be frightening and even dangerous, especially if you have been taking higher doses for an extended period or have a history of mental disorders. Panic attacks, psychosis, paranoia, hallucinations, mood swings, and even suicidal thoughts are the most serious psychological withdrawal symptoms [5]

These psychological symptoms are why it is important for you to quit Adderall under the supervision of a doctor.  

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Muscle tremors are the main physical symptoms of withdrawal from Adderall. As your dopamine levels fall, it’s understandable that this happens, but it’s only temporary. 

Perceived reductions in athletic performance are other common physical symptoms as the hyper-focused state wears off. For athletes, abusing Adderall can be very dangerous, because it can cause muscle mass to break down and raise your body temperature [5]

Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

You may start to notice symptoms of Adderall withdrawal as soon as your last dose. Here’s an example of a typical Adderall withdrawal timeline:

Adderall withdrawal

  • Day 1-7: Fatigue, sometimes to the point of exhaustion; increased sleep and depression during the first week, otherwise known as the “Adderall crash” phase. You’re likely to have light, broken sleep that doesn’t leave you feeling refreshed [6]
  • Day 7-10: Continued symptoms of withdrawal after the initial crash feature poor ability to focus; insomnia; mood swings; headaches; body aches; dysregulated appetite; and sometimes paranoia [7].
  • Day 21: Sleep disturbances, where you either can’t sleep or sleep too much, and increased appetite are common symptoms that generally dissipate in a few weeks [8].
  • Day 90: A gradual resolution of all symptoms. 

The time it takes for the two active substances of Adderall to leave the body is measured by half-lives. A half-life is the length of time for half of the drug to reduce and be eliminated from your system. The average half-life of d-amphetamine is nine to 11 hours, while l-amphetamine has a half-life of 11-13 hours [9]

After you stop taking Adderall, you could experience withdrawal symptoms from as long as several weeks or just a few days. However, you can expect mood symptoms such as depression to end within the first week [10]

How To Manage Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

You don’t have to suffer in silence; you can find relief from the symptoms of Adderall withdrawal with pharmaceutical and natural treatment. Some work by supporting the now-deficient neurotransmitter pathways, while others provide symptomatic relief. 

Medications To Help You Cope

Some medications can help you cope with Adderall withdrawal symptoms, including antidepressants to manage depression. These have also been specifically tested for amphetamine withdrawal. 

However, there is still limited evidence for the efficacy of these medications. The one that’s proven the most effective, Amineptine, is not approved by the FDA and has been withdrawn in France [11]

Severe cases of stimulant withdrawal can call for certain antipsychotics, with an example being Aripiprazole. This medication directly compensates for the severe drop in dopamine you can experience with sudden withdrawal from Adderall after years of dependency. 

In milder situations, antianxiety and antidepressant medications are often used alongside psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy [12]. Of course, if you have a headache or full-body aches, over-the-counter pain medication could help you too. 

Adderall Detox

Detoxification is the process of getting a substance out of your body so you can recover from drug addiction. In the case of Adderall detox, both cold turkey and tapering options are possible depending on how reliant your body has become on taking the drug. 

While a cold-turkey Adderall detox may sound like a way to get over it all faster, it is unfortunately linked to more intense withdrawal symptoms. 

Some examples of tapering with a secondary drug involve using the stimulant at a full dose for one week, then half dose for the next week before leaving it completely. The new treatment is first taken at a lower dose, then at the full dose [13]

Another example of a taper is a gradual reduction every three days, such as the 10mg reductions given in one case study of a man with adult ADHD [14]

Long-Term Treatment of Adderall Abuse

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is sometimes used alongside medication for the long-term treatment of Adderall and other stimulant drug abuse. The aim of CBT is to change negative thinking patterns. For example, a belief that you cannot succeed without a stimulant helper or that success only comes from a level of overwork that requires stimulants may drive your Adderall misuse. 

Research from Australia and Thailand finds that CBT significantly improves the rate of long-term abstinence from amphetamines. This is maintained even six months after therapy has ended. Overall mental health and rates of other drug use are improved too [15]

Dangers of Adderall Abuse

Adderall abuse can have long-term neurological consequences if you’re taking it for anything other than medical needs. However, many students and people in demanding careers turn to the drug to improve focus. 5-35% of college students use ADHD drugs to improve academic performance [16]

adderall withdrawal Prevalence of Adderall misuse among college-aged adults
About 14.6% of college males and 8.8% of women misuse Adderall
Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/drug-alcohol-use-in-college-age-adults-in-2018

Adderall dependence has both short and long-term effects, from anxiety to brain damage. Common side effects of Adderall include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Indifference
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Loss of appetite.

Over time, the elevated levels of dopamine that Adderall induces can eventually be toxic to the neuronal systems that naturally produce and use dopamine. Nerve terminals and transporters for dopamine and other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, may be lower after long-term amphetamine use [17]

An occasional Adderall binge or abusing Adderall intermittently may be even worse than smaller, frequent doses. Withdrawal could increase corticosterone levels in the brain, which is the main stress hormone [18]. High brain levels of glucocorticoids are linked to a greater risk of age-related cognitive decline and a faster loss of memory performance. 

Cycling on and off Adderall or using it to pull all-nighters doesn’t do you any favors either. On top of the damaging effects of glucocorticoid elevation are the dangers of sleep deprivation. Inflammation and oxidative stress go up, causing more harm to your brain. As glucocorticoids kill off new neurons, brain shrinkage can appear over time [19]

Study Pill Alternatives: Nootropics

Nootropic supplements can be a safe, effective alternative to Adderall for demanding careers or studies. The best nootropics for kicking Adderall addiction or similar stimulant drugs are those that boost dopamine, as they have similar wanted effects such as increased mental energy and focus. 

What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics are supplements, herbal remedies, and pharmaceutical drugs that aim to enhance neurological function. 

Dopamine-boosting nootropics include the herb Rhodiola, which can slow the breakdown of dopamine [20]. Other nootropic examples are Tyrosine, the backbone of dopamine that provides direct support, and acetyl-l-carnitine which helps to protect the neurons that produce dopamine [21] [22]

Mind Lab Pro is a nootropic supplement that includes N-acetyl-tyrosine, lion’s mane mushroom, and L-theanine. N-acetyl-tyrosine can be efficiently converted into dopamine. Lion’s mane provides support by boosting the growth of new neurons, while L-theanine may provide a relaxing effect [23] [24]

To learn more, read the full Mind Lab Pro review

Another nootropic supplement we recommend is Performance Lab, and like Mind Lab Pro, it contains tyrosine for direct dopamine production support. 

Other ingredients of Performance Lab include a safe form of choline, which our bodies use to make the stimulating neurotransmitter acetylcholine and cell membranes, and Maritime pine bark extract which provides protective antioxidant support [25] [26]

Read the full Performance Lab review here. 

However, nootropic supplements are not a substitute for medical support. If you’re experiencing severe psychological  Adderall withdrawal symptoms, seek professional help immediately. 

FAQ

In a nutshell, what are the most important things we need to know about Adderall withdrawal? 

How Long Do the Withdrawal Symptoms of Adderall Last?

How long Adderall withdrawal symptoms last depends on how long you’ve been taking the drug and the doses used. Generally, the most serious symptoms disappear in the first week, but you can have residual symptoms such as insomnia for three weeks or even several months. 

How Long Are You Tired After Stopping Adderall?

The Adderall crash features fatigue to the point of exhaustion, which usually resolves in a week. However, poor sleep may leave you feeling tired for several months after stopping Adderall. 

How Long Does Depression Last After Quitting Adderall?

You can expect depressive symptoms from quitting Adderall to self-resolve before the end of the first week. 

Why Does Adderall Wear Off so Quickly?

Adderall doesn’t spend a long time in your body, so you typically start to experience withdrawal symptoms within hours of your last dose. It only takes nine to 11 hours for half of a D-amphetamine dose to be removed from the body, while half of the more durable L-form leaves in 11-13 hours. 

Conclusion 

Drug abuse is hard to kick, especially with Adderall withdrawal symptoms getting in the way. Fatigue, poor concentration, and sleep are some common symptoms and are the most severe in the “crash” phase. 

However, there are treatment options including medication to lessen the physical and psychological effects such as cognitive behavioral therapy, tapering programs, and nootropic supplements.

If you’re on medication to treat adhd and concerned about the adverse effects of Adderall crash, consult your doctor or any healthcare provider. 

References

  1. Shoptaw, Steven J et al. “Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 2009,2 CD003021. 15 Apr. 2009, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003021.pub2 
  2. Easton, Neil et al. “Effects of amphetamine isomers, methylphenidate and atomoxetine on synaptosomal and synaptic vesicle accumulation and release of dopamine and noradrenaline in vitro in the rat brain.” Neuropharmacology vol. 52,2 (2007): 405-14. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2006.07.035 
  3. Berke, Joshua D. “What does dopamine mean?.” Nature neuroscience vol. 21,6 (2018): 787-793. doi:10.1038/s41593-018-0152-y
  4. Tortora, Gerald J. & Derrickson, B. “Principles of anatomy & physiology.” Wiley (2011).
  5. Kerna, Nicholas et al. “Adderall: On the Razor’s Edge of ADHD Treatment, Enhanced Academic and Physical Performance, Addiction, Psychosis, and Death.” 9 (2020): 65–71. doi:10.31080/ecpp.2020.09.00801.
  6. Shoptaw, Steven J et al. “Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 2009,2 CD003021. 15 Apr. 2009, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003021.pub2 
  7. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). 2013.  
  8. Shoptaw, Steven J et al. “Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 2009,2 CD003021. 15 Apr. 2009, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003021.pub2 
  9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Adderall.” (2017) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/011522s043lbl.pdf 
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  11. Khoramizadeh, Mansour et al. “Treatment of amphetamine abuse/use disorder: a systematic review of a recent health concern.” Daru : journal of Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences vol. 27,2 (2019): 743-753. doi:10.1007/s40199-019-00282-3  
  12. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). 2013.  
  13. Quintana, Humberto et al. “Transition from methylphenidate or amphetamine to atomoxetine in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder–a preliminary tolerability and efficacy study.” Clinical therapeutics vol. 29,6 (2007): 1168-77. doi:10.1016/j.clinthera.2007.06.017 
  14. Chu, Robert Karoly, et al. “ Adult ADHD: Questioning Diagnosis and Treatment in a Patient with Multiple Psychiatric Comorbidities.” Case Reports in Psychiatry, (2017): 1–7. doi:10.1155/2017/1364894 
  15. Khoramizadeh, Mansour et al. “Treatment of amphetamine abuse/use disorder: a systematic review of a recent health concern.” Daru : journal of Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences vol. 27,2 (2019): 743-753. doi:10.1007/s40199-019-00282-3  
  16. Kerna, Nicholas et al. “Adderall: On the Razor’s Edge of ADHD Treatment, Enhanced Academic and Physical Performance, Addiction, Psychosis, and Death.” 9 (2020): 65–71. doi:10.31080/ecpp.2020.09.00801.
  17. Berman, S M et al. “Potential adverse effects of amphetamine treatment on brain and behavior: a review.” Molecular psychiatry vol. 14,2 (2009): 123-42. doi:10.1038/mp.2008.90  
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  19. de Souza-Talarico, Juliana Nery et al. “Effects of stress hormones on the brain and cognition: Evidence from normal to pathological aging.” Dementia & neuropsychologia vol. 5,1 (2011): 8-16. doi:10.1590/S1980-57642011DN05010003 
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  21. van de Rest, Ondine et al. “Dose-Dependent Effects of Oral Tyrosine Administration on Plasma Tyrosine Levels and Cognition in Aging.” Nutrients vol. 9,12 1279. 23 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9121279 
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Can You Take Adderall While Pregnant?

Can You Take Adderall While Pregnant?

Millions of women are prescribed Adderall XR for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the U.S. If you are one of them, and have ever had a conversation with your doctor about coming off birth control, you will know that it may be strongly advised to discontinue the stimulant medication.

Untreated ADHD, Adderall withdrawal symptoms and a baby brain may seem too much to handle, however your ultimate goal is to protect your pregnancy. 

So, what do you do? This article aims to provide you with some helpful facts and information.

Key Takeaways: Adderall and Pregnancy

  • Adderall XR has been a first line intervention for treating ADHD since 2002. Increasingly, women with ADHD are becoming pregnant on Adderall.
  • Seek professional medical advice if you take ADHD medications and are pregnant.
  • Potential risks, such as a lower birth weight and premature birth, could affect your pregnancy if you continue to take the ADHD medicine.
  • The exact risk of long term adverse outcomes to the baby, such as abnormalities and neurological impairments is not known due to lack of data on pregnant women taking stimulants.
  • Moderate symptoms of ADHD may be treated with alternatives to Adderall, but pregnant women with severe ADHD symptoms may be advised to continue the medication regardless.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication that is prescribed by psychiatrists, supporting patients to manage ADHD symptoms. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, a lack of ability to focus, impulsive behaviour and hyperactivity. It can lead to difficulties managing day-to-day tasks [1].

Adderal’s key benefit is that, at therapeutic doses, it dramatically increases the ability to focus and concentrate. That is why it has a big impact on treating behavioral health conditions like ADHD.

Approximately 4.4% of adults have ADHD. But it's more commonly seen in?

Approximately 4.4% of adults have ADHD. But it's more commonly seen in?
Choose an answer to reveal what studies have found
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Correct! Wrong!

Approximately 4.4% of adults have ADHD. But it's more commonly seen in?
ADHD is more common in men (5.4%) than in women (3.2%)

can you take adderall while pregnant Prevalence of adult ADHD in the US

How Does Adderall Work?

Adderall works by stimulating the nervous system and altering chemicals in the brain. It affects neurotransmitters, particularly the ones in the brain’s reward center that are sensitive to the reward hormone dopamine. When dopamine receptors are triggered by a drug, they increase our feeling of motivation, satisfaction and help us focus better.

Amphetamines, via the nervous system, speed up the messages that travel between the brain and the body. The physiological boost enhances energy and wakefulness. They also affect the cardiovascular system, increasing the heart rate and raising blood pressure. The rise in blood pressure is due to constriction of blood vessels, which is another bodily effect of Adderall.

Adderall and Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

The safety of taking Adderall during pregnancy is not confirmed. If taken as prescribed, there is little evidence to show the relationship between Adderall and neonatal outcomes. 

That said, safety for you and your baby during pregnancy is paramount. Here we provide you a summary of available scientific evidence, information and possible side effects of using Adderall during pregnancy.

Adderall Effects on Fetus: What Could Happen?

The main possible adverse outcomes of Adderall use during pregnancy are:

can you take adderall while pregnant

  • Reduced birth weight 
  • Birth defects
  • Congenital malformations
  • Premature delivery

1. Reduced Birth Weight

Evidence from a large study of pregnant women including some who took dextroamphetamine (Adderall XR) showed that infants born of mothers taking the drug had a 4% lower birth weight than those not taking the drug. 

The relationship was apparent especially when women continued using the drug after 28 weeks gestation, which is a high weight gain trimester for the baby. The reason for the lower birth rate is likely due to Adderall’s role in constricting blood vessels, which during pregnancy reduces the amount of blood and oxygen that can pass through the placenta [2]

2. Birth Defects 

In some analyses, there are three birth defects linked to Adderall use during pregnancy. They are:

  • Gastroschisis, which is when the baby’s intestines grow outside of the baby’s body from an opening next to the belly button. 
  • Omphalocele is when the baby’s intestines, liver, or other organs stick outside of the belly or belly button, because the abdominal wall didn’t form properly. 
  • Upper and lower limb reduction, when the top of the fetus’ arm or leg does not form properly and the affected limbs are reduced in size [3].

The exact causes of these abnormalities are still unknown, but it is thought that exposure to Adderall in early pregnancy might contribute to the risk.

3. Congenital Malformations, also known as heart problems

There is a potential link between cardiac malformations and ADHD medications.

Two large studies in the US and Europe analyzing over four million pregnancies total revealed that there was a minor increased risk of cardiac malfunctions in babies with mothers taking ADHD medications. 

The results showed that with other ADHD medications, such as Ritalin (methylphenidate), there was a “potential small increased risk of cardiac malfunctions” in the babies. The data shows that Adderall did not have a significant effect, but there is discussion between health professionals that more research is needed on this [4].

4. Premature Delivery

Amphetamines can stimulate uterine contractions, which increases the risk that you deliver prematurely. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) notes this is their guidance about the risks of Adderall for pregnant women taking stimulants [5].

Common Side Effects of Adderall During Pregnancy

Common side effects of Adderall to watch out for during pregnancy:

  • Loss of appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Dependency

1. Loss of Appetite

An adverse maternal health effect from taking Adderall is its impact on appetite. Women who are administered Adderall may be eating less than women who are not, at a time when diet is highly important. The nutrition of the mother and health of the fetus could be affected.  This is a factor to consider in light of possible reduction in the baby’s birth weight. 

2. High Blood Pressure

Pregnant women are more vulnerable to high blood pressure and the consequences of it are more serious when pregnant. Anyone with pre-existing health conditions, especially hypertension, will likely not be given Adderall at all. Blood pressure should always be monitored regularly during pregnancy, particularly if you are taking Adderall.

3. Dependency

Adderall can be very addictive, which means that it is often abused. Adderall abuse during pregnancy may mean that your baby becomes physically dependent on it too. Babies born with a dependency to amphetamines can have difficulty feeding, seem irritable or agitated, and are very drowsy [5].

The effect on babies who have ingested high levels of stimulants in the womb due to drug abuse is often irreversible [6].

If you or people around you believe Adderall dependency is an issue for you and your baby, there are substance abuse programs that aim to provide impartial support and counseling, and may be able to help you find a treatment center.

Statistical Risks: Can You Take Adderall While Pregnant Or Not?

The exact level of risk to expectant mothers taking Adderall and their babies is not known. In the general population, there is already a chance that pregnancies will be miscarried or develop major birth defects (15–20% and 2–4% respectively). 

Also the percentage of pregnant women who suffer from ADHD is quite low: 3.2%. There is insufficient risk data about pregnant women taking stimulant medication [5].

can you take adderall while pregnant Percentage of women who've used Adderall/Adderall XR or other ADD/ADHD drug during pregnancy
Between 2006 and 2016 the number of women taking either Adderall or Adderall XR during pregnancy increased
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4313616/

From available epidemiologic reports and data, the highest risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes from taking Adderall are premature delivery and low birth weight. However, miscarriage and birth defects may not be more likely than in the general population, or with those not taking stimulant medications, according to the FDA [5].

Human studies are also lacking due to ethical considerations. Animal studies show more dramatic birth defects and high rates of fetal morbidity, but have largely been experiments with high doses of drugs, which are not representative of prescribed amounts in humans.

Licensed medical professionals may want to err on the side of caution, as the lack of available data is unnerving. There are obstetric risks with Adderall use and pregnancy, which your qualified healthcare provider will try to avoid. There is also little long term data on brain development of the infants born to mothers who take the medication during pregnancies [7].

Despite this, part of the risk assessment that your healthcare professional will carry out is weighing up the risk of exposure vs the risk of being unmedicated. If your doctor believes, for example, that discontinuing the medication will leave you at serious risk of crashing your car because of ADHD symptoms, this could outweigh the potentially smaller chance you will have complications during your pregnancy [8].

Coping With ADHD and Pregnancy: What To Do

Expecting mothers managing ADHD symptoms may find all of this information a lot to take in, understandably. If ADHD affects you and you are pregnant, here’s what you can do to cope:

can you take adderall while pregnant

Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations

Your doctor will be able to make a more objective assessment of what to do. Based on the severity of behavioral health conditions they can establish whether the benefits outweigh the risks of continuing with Adderall during your pregnancy.

If you have a severe case of ADHD that interferes with your ability to take care of yourself, your doctor might suggest it is safer to stay on the drugs to help you focus on you and your baby.

Think about steps to take after you have had the baby. Who will support you during your postpartum period? How will you reach your follow up appointments? Discuss with your doctor the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and what to do if you experience it.

It is not advisable to immediately discontinue taking stimulant medication when you discover you are pregnant. Pregnancy combined with a possible Adderall crash may be problematic for you and your mental health. 

If you have already decided you want to stop taking Adderall because you are concerned about how it might impact your baby, you and a medical professional can discuss a way to taper off the stimulant medication safely.

When you have stopped the medication, it might benefit you to look at alternative treatment options that help with relaxation and focus.

Alternative Treatments

Increasing dopamine levels in the brain is the main effect of Adderall and other stimulant medications. There are simple natural ways to do the same; albeit without such an immediate impact. These techniques may also help you to relax and enjoy the journey of pregnancy more.

Regular Exercise

Moderate exercise for pregnant women has many great health benefits for mother and baby. Aside from warding off some of pregnancy’s undesirable symptoms such as excessive weight gain, exercise also reduces stress and anxiety by lifting mood. 

Regular exercise during pregnancy also means you may expect a shorter time in labour [9]

Therapy

Talking therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy, can be recommended in mild cases of ADHD as an alternative to medication.

Your therapist might give you some tips on how better to organize yourself without the artificial focus of stimulant medications, such as writing things down so as not to forget them.

Massage Therapy

Massage is a great thing to treat yourself to during pregnancy. As your body goes through its incredible transformation, aches and pains are commonplace.

Indulging in self care activities like these are great ways of increasing your dopamine levels and other hormones that help you maintain a relaxed, happy mood during pregnancy.

Meditation

Meditation is known to be relaxing and focuses concentration. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and can affect areas of the brain conducive to memory and learning.

For these reasons, it is highly recommended during pregnancy, as well as to treat mild to moderate anxiety or depression.

Tricyclic Antidepressants 

Tricyclic antidepressants are a category of antidepressants that were used originally to treat a mental health disorder called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and are now FDA approved for a variety of psychiatric problems. It could be that your doctor recommends you change medication, as opposed to stopping it altogether.

As with Adderall, the added risk of certain birth defects and miscarriage from taking anti depressents during pregancy is undetermined. However, there is some evidence suggesting that prenatal exposure to some types may increase the risk of heart defects.

On the other hand, nortriptyline, a type of tricyclic antidepressant, appears to be a safer medication for nursing mothers, as it is less likely to affect breast milk [10].

Adderall and Fertility

There are no available scientific studies to assess the relationship between Adderall and fertility. However, it does not appear to be an issue for fertility in humans.

Adult ADHD is more prevalent now than ever before. Many women carry the disorder over with them from childhood; some people are even being diagnosed in adulthood. As such, ADHD medication use before and during pregnancy has increased dramatically over time.

Can You Get Pregnant While on Adderall?

Yes, and given the high rate of unplanned pregnancies among young women, there is an increase in women with ADHD who are getting pregnant on Adderall, as well as fetuses exposed to the drug in the first trimester. Health professional groups say this under-researched phenomenon warrants further analysis.

FAQ 

Let’s recap some of this information and address your frequently asked questions about Adderall and pregnancy here.

Can Taking Adderall While Pregnant Cause Birth Defects?

Possibly, but studies show that women taking Adderall at recommended doses may not be more likely to have babies with birth defects than women who do not take the drug. All pregnancies come with a baseline risk of birth defects.

Does Adderall Pass Through Placenta?

Yes, and research shows it can also pass through breast milk in nursing women. That is why your health care professional should carry out a careful risk assessment if you discover you are pregnant on Adderall.

Does ADHD Medication Affect Pregnancy?

Yes, it can. Adderall has side effects that increase the chance of some obstetric risks. For example, Adderall constricts blood vessels in the body, which raises blood pressure and reduces the amount of oxygen and blood that can flow to the baby.

What Can I Take Instead of Adderall While Pregnant?

Your doctor might explore the option of alternative medications to treat ADHD with you. Less harmful alternatives like tricyclic antidepressants can be prescribed, especially for breastfeeding women. 

Over the counter Adderall options could be available to you, although always check the instructions to ensure they are safe during pregnancy.

Conclusion 

It’s not your fault if you have been prescribed Adderall then discover you are pregnant. However if you are pregnant and still taking Adderall, it is important that you discuss with your doctor as soon as possible what to do next. They might suggest that you lower your dose, taper off your Adderall and stop altogether, or explore different treatment strategies, depending on what is best for you and your baby.

References

  1. “Https://Www.psychiatry.org/Patients-Families/Adhd/What-Is-Adhd.” What Is Adhd?, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/adhd/what-is-adhd. 
  2. RL;, Naeye. “Maternal Use of Dextroamphetamine and Growth of the Fetus.” Pharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6844388/. 
  3. Kayla N. Anderson, Annelise C. Dutton. “ADHD Medication Use during Pregnancy and Risk for SELECTED Birth Defects: National Birth Defects PREVENTION Study, 1998-2011 – KAYLA N. ANDERSON, Annelise C. DUTTON, Cheryl S. Broussard, Sherry L. Farr, JENNIFER n. LIND, SUSANNA N. Visser, Elizabeth C. AILES, Stuart K. Shapira, Jennita Reefhuis, SARAH C. Tinker, 2020.” SAGE Journals, journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1087054718759753. 
  4. Krista F. Huybrechts, MS. “Congenital Malformations and Methylphenidate and Amphetamine Use in Pregnancy.” JAMA Psychiatry, JAMA Network, 1 Feb. 2018, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2664964. 
  5. ADDERALL XR Label – Accessdata.fda.gov https://www.accessdata.fda.gov drugsatfda_docs PDF HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. 
  6. JR;, Plessinger MA;Woods. “Maternal, Placental, and Fetal Pathophysiology of Cocaine Exposure during Pregnancy.” Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8513624/. 
  7. MP;, Baker AS;Freeman. “Management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder during Pregnancy.” Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30092924/. 
  8. MP;, Baker AS;Freeman. “Management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder during Pregnancy.” Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30092924/. 
  9. Rodríguez-Blanque, Raquel, et al. “Physical Activity during Pregnancy and Its Influence on Delivery Time: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” PeerJ, PeerJ Inc., 7 Feb. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371916/. 
  10. S;, Gentile. “Tricyclic Antidepressants in Pregnancy and Puerperium.” Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24383525/. 
  11. Golub, Mari, et al. “NTP‐CERHR Expert Panel Report on the Reproductive and Developmental Toxicity of Amphetamine and Methamphetamine.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 15 Sept. 2005, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bdrb.20048.