You’ve almost definitely heard of ‘nootropics’ by now. This is a relatively new class of supplements. They first started to appear in a rudimentary form a decade ago. It is only recently, however, that they’ve really become well-known to the general public. Nootropics are now established as a serious supplement category. Some of them seem to work as advertised; people around the world use them on a daily basis and they usually report getting good results.
However, there is a subclass of nootropics which definitely warrants our attention.
We’re talking about the supposed “natural ADHD drugs” and “natural Ritalin/natural Adderall” supplements that have started to appear all over the internet.
This article is going to focus specifically on these supplements. We’ll talk about nootropics more generally in a separate article. There is more than enough ground for us to cover here.
What are these “natural ADHD drugs” claiming to do exactly?
How are they different to other brain supplements? Why are they so much worse than the other products out there claiming similar effects?
Is there any basis to their claims? Is there any chance that they do work as advertised?
In the article below, we will try to answer these questions as quickly and succinctly as we possibly can. We’ll explain how these scammers use false hope to market their garbage brain pills. We’ll look at some examples of bogus ADHD supplements, and then compare them to some nootropic supplements that don’t make such outrageous claims. Hopefully, this will help you steer clear of these rip-off products in the future.
Have you tried any of these “natural Adderall” supplements? Were you trying to treat ADHD naturally? Share your experiences in the comments below. Don’t be afraid to name and shame!
Natural ADHD Supplement Scams – A Few Examples
It’s worth going through a few examples of these scam products before we start talking about why they’re scams. That way, you’ll know what we’re talking about (although we think you’ve probably seen at least one of these products yourself).
Here are some supplements claiming to either be “natural alternatives” to ADHD drugs, or treatments for ADHD themselves:
It should be immediately obvious that these products are scams.
They promise hope to people struggling with various conditions, yet they stand absolutely no chance of delivering on this promise.
Preying on hope and desperation for financial gain is deeply immoral.
In our opinion, it should be illegal.
These products claim to be natural alternatives to Adderall, Ritalin, and other pharmaceutical drugs designed to treat ADHD and other related disorders. But in reality, they are just a collection of herbs, minerals, and stimulants, not unlike any other supplement on the market.
Some of them contain dangerous quantities of stimulants. This is done to give the user a palpable feeling of being “up”; they will think the drug really is extremely powerful, just like Adderall. But the “up” is merely an abundance of caffeine hitting the system. A caffeine crash will follow, but not before the user experiences a range of quite serious side effects.
They appear to be exactly the same in composition as other supplement on the market that merely claim to improve focus, energy levels, and mental clarity. These similar products make absolutely no mention of being able to cure disorders like ADHD.
If they were genuinely able to do so, wouldn’t they say?
That these “natural ADHD” supplements appear to be extremely similar to other products that make no such claims should be a major red flag to you.
The fact that they contain such commonplace herbs, minerals, amino acids, and stimulants should also tell you that they can’t possibly be able to replicate the effects of pharmaceutical-grade drugs.
Many of the websites pushing these products show impressive-looking graphs, supposedly displaying the proven power of the supplement in question.
They will quote amazing facts and figures which demonstrate how well their product works.
But in very case, they are either misrepresenting the findings of the studies, or they are just outright lying to you.
For example, here is an image that appears on more than one “natural Adderall” merchant site:
This graph supposed shows how the brain changes under the influence of this supplement. The increase in activity in the image on the right is supposed to be obviously better than the image on the left.
In reality, this image is completely meaningless.
We can’t find where it was originally published, but we know for a fact that it has nothing to do with the supplements currently using it to sell product.
Do Any Of Them Work?
There is no natural supplement currently capable of positively influencing ADHD, or any related disorder.
No natural supplement is currently noted for its ability to improve the symptoms of ADHD or any related condition.
We have no reason to believe that any natural, OTC supplement is capable of replicating the effects of Adderall, Ritalin, or any similar drug.
A thorough look at the available scientific literature is sufficient to draw these conclusions.
This extensive literature review is probably the best place to start. Here, researchers looked at a number of herbs, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids which have been touted for their positive effects on ADHD. The researchers noted numerous studies which seem to show positive results from the administration of substances commonly found in these “natural Adderall alternatives”: Ginkgo Biloba, Rhodiola rosea, etc.
However, the researchers also noted the lack of follow-up studies confirming the findings of these promising trials.
In every case, the paper’s authors were clear that there was insufficient evidence to support the use of any herbal extract to treat ADHD. For example, with regards to Ginkgo Biloba, the authors concluded: “More formal clinical trials are required with longer duration and rigorous clinical endpoints in order to prove the worth of G. biloba in ADHD treatment.”
You can look at the sections on Valerian Root, Bacopa monnieri, etc. and you will see exactly the same conclusions; some studies show a benefit, but nothing conclusive.
It is worth quoting from the paper’s final conclusion in full:
“Although the use of natural medications for ADHD has been considered as a “safer” approach, natural products are still far from being called as standard ADHD treatments due to the lack of comprehensive and appropriately controlled clinical studies that interrogate both their efficacy and safety. Moreover, it is challenging to compare efficacy profiles of herb therapy with conventional pharmacological ADHD treatments, mainly because herbal preparations are not standardized, and question regarding their purity, reliability, safety, and toxicity profiles will always arise. Therefore, using pure medications with known doses, described mechanisms of action, and adverse effects profiles is preferable with regard to the use of natural product-derived ADHD treatments.”
This is one of the most extensive investigations we’ve read into natural ADHD therapies, and the lack of confidence in the evidence by these researchers is pretty damning.
A paper published in 2015 really solidifies the conclusions drawn by the authors above (ref). According to these researchers, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the herbal extracts commonly used in natural Adderall alternatives have no effect on ADHD or its symptoms.
The authors state:
“Some herbal remedies such as Gingko biloba, and St. John’s Wort are fairly frequently used to treat ADHD despite non-existent to negative evidence of efficacy and clear evidence for possible side-effects.”
That’s good enough for us.