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December 2022

Adderall Shortage: Natural Medicines Getting a Boost

The nationwide Adderall shortage has led patients to seek out alternatives, including nootropic supplements. These supplements claim to improve memory, attention, and thinking skills. It’s important to talk to patients about any nootropic supplements they might be trying – many of them contain a long list of ingredients with limited evidence of benefit.

Multiple “Adderall alternative” lists promote a product called Brain Productivity by NooCube. As with many nootropics, this product contains many ingredients, including bacopa and Huperzia serrata. While bacopa is possibly safe for most people when used short-term, it’s unclear if it offers any benefits for people with ADHD. The available research is preliminary. As for Huperzia serrata, also known as toothed clubmoss, there’s no good scientific evidence supporting its use for any condition. It contains a chemical called huperzine A, which is of interest for use in Alzheimer disease, but there’s no good evidence showing it benefits ADHD. Other popular products, such as Mind Lab Pro, contain ingredients like phosphatidylserine and lion’s mane mushroom – there are no major safety concerns with these ingredients, but there is also no good supportive evidence for their use in ADHD.

Most of the individual ingredients commonly used in these products may not pose serious safety risks, but when combined with multiple other ingredients, the risk for side effects and interactions increases. Additionally, there have been a number of reports in the past of nootropic supplements being tainted with dangerous ingredients not listed on the product label, such as phenibut and phenylethylamine.

Remind patients that dietary supplements aren’t regulated in the same way as drugs such as Adderall – just because a product is marketed as an effective alternative doesn’t mean it’s safe or beneficial.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2023 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.