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Over-The-Counter Adderall: Can Nootropics Work for ADHD?

Over-The-Counter Adderall: Can Nootropics Work for ADHD?

By Kire Stojkovski M.D
Editor Jonathan Hoarau Published 14 October 2021
Time to read 18 min

Being diagnosed with ADHD or narcolepsy can turn your life upside down. There are so many drugs, supplements, natural remedies, and pieces of advice floating around it can be impossible to sort the truly helpful from the shameless sales pitch.

A new form of cognitive enhancers called nootropics is being touted as the up-and-coming Adderall alternative, helping to boost your memory, focus, and motivation, all without those pesky side effects.

But are these supplements the real deal, or are they just another backyard invention that’s promising to save you from drug use for all eternity?

This article covers everything you need to know about over-the-counter Adderall alternatives, their ingredients, benefits, and what your options are should you want to try them for yourself.

Quick View

  • Best Overall – Mind Lab Pro
  • Best Core Ingredient Nootropic – Performance Lab Mind
  • Best Unique Nootropic – NooCube
  • Best Premium Supplement – Qualia Mind
  • Best For Memory – Brain Pill
Product or Service  Price For One Month’s Supply Stimulant Free? FDA Approved? Refund Policy Number of Nootropic or Beneficial Ingredients
Mind Lab Pro $69.00 Yes No 60-day money-back guarantee 11
Performance Lab Mind $69.00 Yes No 60-day money-back guarantee 4
NooCube $59.99 Yes No 60-day limited refund policy 7
Qualia Mind $139.00 No No 100-day money-back guarantee 28
BrainPill $79.95 Yes No 67-day money-back guarantee 13

Quick Verdict

  • Best Overall – Mind Lab Pro: Mind Lab Pro is a Universal Nootropic that is affordable and made from quality, science-backed ingredients. It contains no stimulants and only rarely produces mild side effects.
  • Best Core Ingredient Nootropic – Performance Lab Mind: Performance Lab Nootropics put quality, well-researched ingredients above various less effective formulae. This produces a premium quality core nootropic at an affordable price.
  • Best Unique Nootropic – NooCube: NooCube contains brain-boosting ingredients like oat straw and cat’s claw, which aren’t present in any other supplements on this list.
  • Best Premium Supplement – Qualia Mind: Qualia Mind contains a huge range of beneficial and nootropic ingredients, ensuring you have access to an equally extensive range of benefits to your brain and overall wellbeing.
  • Best For Memory – Brain Pill: Brain Pill contains a range of ingredients to significantly benefit your memory and recall abilities while boosting overall cognitive function.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is the name given to a drug consisting of two amphetamine salts: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, typically prescribed by a medical professional to treat narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

Adderall acts as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that increases the concentration of norepinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters in your body to speed up brain activity.

Effects of Adderall

Adderall pills affect your body and brain function in various ways, such as:

  • Reducing hyperactivity
  • Improving attention span
  • Boosting focus
  • Increasing confidence
  • Energizing your mind

Why Should I Consider an Adderall Alternative?

Despite the cognitive benefits of the drug, many people are looking for an Adderall alternative on account of two main factors; its side effects and its potential for abuse and addiction.

Side Effects

As with all pharmaceutical drugs, Adderall has a range of side effects and health risks, including:

  • Nervousness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Sleeplessness
  • Blurry vision
  • Stomach aches
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure

Finding a herbal alternative in the form of smart drugs with the same effects as Adderall can help you avoid most of these side effects.

Potential for Abuse and Addiction

Due to Adderall’s powerful stimulant effects, the drug has a high potential for being abused or misused, which could eventually lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Adderall addiction can be seriously debilitating and challenging to overcome, making many people and parents hesitant about using or letting their kids use the drug for extended periods.

Use of prescription stimulants in the United States
Prevalence of prescription stimulant use, misuse, and use disorders in the U.S. adult population
Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2018/04/five-million-american-adults-misusing-prescription-stimulants

By using Adderall alternatives, you can ensure you or your children are not exposed to any unnecessary risk of getting addicted to a stimulant even as you follow your doctor’s prescription precisely.

What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics, or smart drugs, are some of the best Adderall alternatives out there and provide a range of cognitive benefits to your brain function and performance.

Typically made of various herbal extracts, nootropics are often called cognitive enhancers for their powerful ability to boost memory, learning abilities, focus, and rapid recall with minimal side effects.

How Do Nootropics Work?

Nootropics contain herbs and essential vitamins carefully chosen and researched for their abilities to boost brain function and support brain health.

Each nootropic ingredient acts on different parts of your brain and follows other mechanisms. However, the overall effect boosts mood stability and increases dopamine secretion and mental performance without any long-term health risks.

What Are the Natural Ingredients in Nootropics?

The Food and Drug Administration may not approve nootropic supplements to treat ADHD or narcolepsy, but many of their ingredients are backed by scientific evidence to improve the parts of cognitive functioning often affected by these two conditions.


Citicoline, also known as CDP-choline, is a naturally occurring chemical often used as an injection or administered orally to help people with memory loss or those experiencing general cognitive impairment.

Some of citicoline’s top nootropic benefits include boosting cognitive function, improving memory retention, and increasing your body’s production of the learning neurotransmitter acetylcholine [1].

As an alternative to Adderall, citicoline can help you learn more efficiently and could help you retain information more effectively.

Other benefits of citicoline include:

  • Improving blood flow to your brain
  • Acting as a neuroprotective agent
  • Boosting the release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine
  • Healing and assisting in the formation of new brain cells

Composite memory scores after 12 weeks of citicoline supplementation


Phosphatidylserine is a fatty compound most commonly involved in the synthesis of the membranes in brain cells. However, it offers a range of nootropic effects to improve brain health like:

  • Encouraging better blood flow to your brain
  • Boosting mental performance
  • Counteracting the effects of mental stress [2]

As part of the cell membrane, phosphatidylserine plays an essential role in neuroprotection and combating cognitive impairment.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is also known as Brahmi and forms an integral part of various nootropic supplements. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years to improve cognition and brain functioning.

Today, Bacopa extract is still used for its nootropic effects that include [3]:

  • Enhancing your focus
  • Decreasing the frequency at which you get distracted
  • Boosting your memory

These features can be significantly beneficial if you have ADHD and need help focusing and getting work done.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a nootropic sourced from the leaves of the ginkgo tree, which is native to China but can be found worldwide.

It was traditionally used to boost cognitive ability and still forms a part of many nootropic supplements today. It is such a popular ingredient on account of its ability to [4]:

  • Increase cerebral blood flow
  • Act as an anti-inflammatory
  • Provides antioxidant properties
  • Possibly treat the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Reduce anxiety

These effects improve the overall health of your brain and help reduce the symptoms of ADHD that affect your daily life.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a compound that is naturally produced in your body and plays an essential role in your body’s energy production and the protection of cells.

It also provides a range of benefits to your cognitive health, including [5]:

  • Boosting your mental energy
  • Protecting against neurodegenerative diseases
  • Reducing the effects of oxidative stress and acting as a powerful antioxidant

These effects could help boost your brain health and ensure it is in optimal condition to reduce the effects of brain fog, ADHD, or narcolepsy.


L-tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that is naturally produced by your body. It plays a vital role in the production of enzymes and several hormones and could significantly benefit your brain performance due to the following benefits [6]:

  • Boosting cognitive abilities
  • Increasing your mental clarity
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Improving your focus

As one of the best amino acids for nootropic effects, L-tyrosine can boost the clarity and focus you need to combat the symptoms that require you to use Adderall.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden root, is a herb that grows in the mountains of Europe and Asia. It has long been used as a herbal remedy to support healthy cognitive function, but modern research has shown promise as a nootropic to boost memory retention.

Some of the most significant benefits of Rhodiola rosea include:

  • Boosting the release of dopamine [7]
  • Acting as a neuroprotective agent [8]
  • Stabilizing your mood

Rhodiola rosea can significantly impact your motivation to study, work, or focus on tasks by supporting mood stability and increasing dopamine secretion. This benefit could help ease the struggles often associated with ADHD that make taking Adderall necessary.

For more information about Rhodiola Rosea, check out our article on nootropics for energy.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a widely used supplement for energy and boosting your mood, while many claim it could counteract the effects of depression. Although these benefits still need to be researched further, it’s one of the best alternatives to Adderall thanks to these abilities:

  • Encouraging healthy brain development [9]
  • Improving cognition [10]

ADHD often starts in teenagers or children and ensuring proper brain development can significantly affect their symptoms when they grow older.

Maritime Pine Bark

Maritime pine bark extract is taken from a pine tree known as Pinus pinaster and is used in many different nootropic supplements as a powerful cognitive booster. It can help to:

  • Improve focus while improving your memory and learning abilities [11]
  • Promote healthy aging and combat cognitive impairment [12]
  • Provide your body with an extensive range of antioxidants [13]

Besides benefiting your overall health, maritime pine bark can help enhance the parts of your brain most affected by ADHD and other learning difficulties.

The Five Best Over-the-Counter Natural Adderall Alternatives

Below is a summary of the best natural Adderall alternatives on the market.

over the counter adderall

Mind Lab Pro – Best Overall

Feature Description Star Rating
Price $69.00 4.5/5
Ingredients 11 nootropic or beneficial ingredients 5/5
Refund Policy 60-day refund policy 4/5
Dosage Two capsules daily 5/5
Side Effects Mild symptoms like diarrhea, sleeplessness, headaches, and jitters 4/5


  • All-natural, evidence-based nootropic ingredients
  • Affordable
  • No stimulants or additives
  • Benefits more than one facet of cognitive function


  • A double serving is required to achieve clinical doses of each ingredient.

Mind Lab Pro is a nootropic and natural Adderall alternative that offers a range of benefits like boosting blood flow to the brain and increasing mental energy. It is the only Universal Nootropic and affects various cognitive functions to optimize every facet of your brain affected by ADHD.

Compared to Adderall, Mind Lab Pro has fewer side effects, no potential for addiction as it contains no additives or stimulants, and can benefit more than just your brain health.

However, before trying Mind Lab Pro, you must discuss it with a medical professional to address any possible interactions with other medications you are using.

Bottom Line: 

Mind Lab Pro is one of the best nootropics on the market that target more than one region and function of your brain to provide a nootropic effect with minimal side effects.

If you’re interested in using this supplement, take a look at our Mind Lab Pro review.

Performance Lab Mind Nootropics – Best Core Ingredient Nootropic

Feature Description Star Rating
Price $69.00 4.5/5
Ingredients Four nootropic or beneficial ingredients 3/5
Refund Policy 60-day refund policy 4/5
Dosage One or two capsules daily 5/5
Side Effects Mild adverse effects like insomnia, headaches, and stomach issues 4/5


  • All-natural, research-backed ingredients.
  • Caffeine and stimulant-free.
  • Vegan friendly.


  • Only four ingredients
  • Only available on the official website

Performance Lab Mind Nootropics is one of the best Adderall alternatives on the market: it boosts brain performance while helping prevent cognitive decline. It’s one of the few nootropic supplements that contains maritime pine bark and provides a powerful cognitive enhancing effect.

Bottom Line: 

Performance Lab Nootropics is a unique nootropic with four core ingredients to powerfully boost your cognitive functions while remaining affordable.

Check out our Performance Lab review for more information on this nootropic supplement.

Noocube – Best Unique Ingredient

Feature Description Star Rating
Price $59.99 5/5
Ingredients Seven nootropic or beneficial ingredients 4.5/5
Refund Policy Limited 60-day refund policy 3/5
Dosage Two to four capsules a day 4/5
Side Effects Mild negative effects like stomach pain, headaches, dizziness, and an increased need to urinate 4/5


  • All-natural, clinically researched ingredients
  • Unique ingredients
  • Mild to no side effects


  • The 60-day refund only applies to unopened, unused bottles.

As one of the best nootropic Adderall alternatives, NooCube offers unique ingredients to improve your overall brain health while boosting mental ability.

Its ability to provide cognitive enhancement comes from powerful ingredients like oat straw and cat’s claw, alongside more typical nootropic constituents like Bacopa monnieri and L-theanine.

Bottom Line: 

NooCube is a unique nootropic that contains beneficial ingredients for cognitive performance as well as overall health. Check out our article on nootropics for memory for more information on its ingredients.

QualiaMind – Best Premium Supplement

Feature Description Star Rating
Price $139.00 3/5
Ingredients 28 nootropic ingredients and beneficial vitamins 5/5
Refund Policy 100-day refund policy 5/5
Dosage Seven capsules daily 3/5
Side Effects Mild side effects including insomnia, jitters, and headaches 4/5


  • All-natural ingredients that are either nootropics or supplemental vitamins
  • 100-day money-back guarantee
  • The most comprehensive range of ingredients of all supplements on this list


  • More expensive than other options
  • Contains caffeine

Qualia Mind is a premium supplement and one of the best Adderall alternatives on the market due to its extensive range of ingredients to enhance cognitive function and brain health.

Not only does its formula provide memory-boosting ingredients, but it can increase your body’s natural neuroprotective response and ensure the health and regeneration of brain and nerve cells.

Bottom Line: 

Qualia Mind is an excellent nootropic supplement but may not be affordable for long-term use, significantly impacting the overall benefit derived from the product.

Brain Pill – Best For Memory

Feature Description Star Rating
Price $79.95 4/5
Ingredients 13 nootropic and beneficial ingredients 5/5
Refund Policy 67-day refund policy 4/5
Dosage Two capsules daily 5/5
Side Effects Mild adverse symptoms like headaches, diarrhea, and sleeplessness 4/5


  • All-natural ingredients
  • Stimulant free
  • Additive-free


  • Side effects may become worse if a double dose or more is taken.

Brain Pill is one of the best Adderall alternatives for memory retention and cognitive performance. The brain booster provides benefits not only to your learning abilities and mental energy but could significantly affect your overall brain health while helping you focus more and get distracted less often,

Bottom Line: 

Brain Pill is an affordable, high-quality nootropic supplement that works especially well at boosting your memory retention and recall abilities.

Ways To Boost Energy and Focus Naturally

Although nootropics are an excellent natural alternative to Adderall, there are other ways to improve cognitive performance as well, including:

  • Dietary changes
  • Lifestyle changes

Dietary Changes

Taking natural supplements isn’t the only way to help improve your focus and memory. Making changes to your diet and eating certain foods could help you achieve these goals naturally.

Some of the best types of food to eat for natural cognitive enhancement include:

  • Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and trout [14]
  • Broccoli [15]
  • Pumpkin seeds contain a range of minerals that are important for brain health [16]
  • Nuts [17]

Lifestyle Changes

Certain lifestyle changes and therapies can help improve your brain function and ability to focus, including:

  • Exercise, which can help improve blood flow through your body and to your brain
  • Acupuncture, which may benefit cognitive abilities and improve your learning and memory [18]

Other Adderall Alternatives

There are many other ways to boost focus than taking Adderall, although none are as effective as natural alternatives like nootropics. However, some energy supplements like those containing vitamin C or caffeine may offer a temporary increase in concentration, although it’s best not to rely on them in the long-term.

Energy Drinks and Caffeine

Energy boosters in the form of caffeinated or vitamin-supplemented drinks can help you temporarily boost your cognitive function. However, long-term use of these beverages can be more harmful than beneficial [19].


Below are the most frequently asked questions about alternatives to Adderall.

What Is the Closest Thing to Adderall Over the Counter?

The closest Adderall alternatives to OTC Adderall are nootropics. A nootropic is a natural substance that can enhance your brain function and help ease the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy.

Can You Get Adderall Over the Counter?

No, Adderall is a stimulant drug that can only be acquired with a doctor’s prescription. However, alternatives to Adderall like nootropics can be purchased over the counter and help ease ADHD and brain fog symptoms.

Can You Get Adderall Without a Doctor? 

No, Adderall can only be prescribed by a medical professional like a doctor. OTC Adderall alternatives are available, however, in the form of nootropics.

Can You Buy Over the Counter Adderall in Walmart? 

Most non-prescription Adderall alternatives are available online, while some are available to buy over the counter in Walmart.

What Is the Best Natural Adderall Sold Over the Counter? 

The best of all the natural Adderall alternatives for brain performance is Mind Lab Pro. Similar nootropics that are also effective include Performance Lab Mind and NooCube.


Adderall can be a beneficial drug, but its range of side effects and potential for abuse makes it a high-risk choice. Nootropic supplements like Mind Lab Pro and Performance Lab Mind make excellent alternatives to Adderall as they can ease the symptoms of ADHD, cognitive decline, and narcolepsy while avoiding the health risks of taking Adderall.


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