September 2023

Back to School: Supplements Trending for ADHD

As the school year kicks off, the ongoing Adderall shortage is prompting many patients and parents to ask about alternatives. Here’s what you should know about the latest trending supplements for ADHD.

Tyrosine is all the rage on social media. Many online influencers call it “over-the-counter Adderall.” It’s also a common ingredient in many nootropic supplements such as Brain Productivity by NooCube. If patients ask about this, explain that tyrosine is a type of amino acid, not a stimulant like Adderall. It’s found in foods such as nuts, seeds, dairy, meats, fish, eggs, and some grains. There’s some evidence that taking tyrosine by mouth improves cognitive function when under stressful conditions. But there isn’t any strong evidence showing that it helps with ADHD.

Citicoline is right behind tyrosine on many online lists. It’s also not a stimulant, but a brain chemical that occurs naturally in the body. It was originally a prescription drug in Japan to help improve memory and brain function after a stroke. Clinical research in elderly adults shows that taking citicoline by mouth improves memory, but there isn’t any clinical data supporting its use for ADHD.

Both tyrosine and citicoline seem to be well-tolerated and don’t pose any serious safety concerns. But many products promoted for ADHD contain a long list of other ingredients, which increases the risk of side effects and interactions. 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.

The bottom line is, there aren’t any natural medicines that are proven to be effective alternatives to Adderall. 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.

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