What Are Nootropics for ADD?

What Are Nootropics for ADD? - Lucid™

Attention Deficit Disorder, now commonly called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), affects millions worldwide, posing challenges in focus, attention, and impulse control. Traditional treatments like stimulant medications and behavioral therapy have limitations.

As natural solutions come to the surface, nootropics take the spotlight. These smart drugs, known for their ability to enhance various aspects of cognitive function, may provide ADHD support with fewer side effects than traditional pharmaceuticals. Don’t take our word for it, though. Let’s explore the science behind nootropics for ADD, the types of nootropics most often used for ADHD management, and the dosage and side effect info you need to consider.

Let’s cover some basics:

Key Takeaways

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) poses challenges in focus, attention, and impulse control, with traditional treatments having limitations.

Nootropics, or smart drugs, are gaining attention as potential ADHD support with fewer side effects than conventional medications.

Nootropics can be paired with lifestyle changes to make a substantial impact on ADHD symptoms, but you should always consult your doctor when changing your supplement regimen.

What is ADD?

ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder is the outdated terminology used to describe the condition now called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD encompasses hyperactive, inattentive, and combined subtypes of attention disorders, all of which impact cognitive and executive functioning.

Common symptoms of ADHD include impulsivity, disorganization, and difficulty sustaining attention. Many people with ADHD struggle to maintain organization and consistency in various areas of life, from work to social aspects, and even personal care and hygiene.

Traditional treatments like stimulants have drawbacks. Prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin are habit-forming and may disrupt sleep or affect mood. Other side effects associated with stimulants may include:

  • loss of appetite

  • weight loss

  • dry mouth

  • stomach upset/pain

  • nausea/vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Diarrhea

  • Fever

  • Nervousness

  • trouble sleeping may occur.

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, are substances that are purported to improve cognitive function, including memory, creativity, motivation, and overall intelligence.

These substances can range from natural compounds like herbs and amino acids to synthetic drugs. While some people use them to enhance productivity and mental performance, their effectiveness and safety vary widely, and scientific research on many nootropics is still ongoing.

With that said, let's take a look at how nootropics may impact ADD:

Can You Use Nootropics for ADD?

Nootropics, also known as "smart drugs," enhance cognitive function and offer potential benefits in managing ADHD symptoms. They work through various mechanisms in the brain, including neurotransmitter modulation and neuroprotection. Understanding their role in ADHD management is crucial for informed decision-making.

Notable Nootropics for ADHD

There are many nootropics that may have an impact on one or more aspects of cognitive function implicated in ADHD. Let’s take a look at some of the most common nootropics and the supporting research behind their potential benefits for ADD and ADHD.

Natural Nootropics

  • L-Tyrosine: L-Tyrosine has been studied for its potential to improve cognitive performance, particularly in challenging situations such as stress or high cognitive load.

    According to research ( 2015 , 20152015 ), tyrosine supplements may enhance memory, cognitive function, and cognitive flexibility in stressful or demanding circumstances.

  • Mucuna Pruriens (L-Dopa): Mucuna pruriens, rich in L-Dopa, has shown promise for neurotransmitter modulation.

    L-Dopa, a dopamine precursor, can directly influence dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline levels, potentially improving energy, focus, mood, and stress relief.

  • N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC): Research has found that NAC may be effective in regulating neurological processes indicated in ADHD, like oxidative stress, neurogenesis, neuroinflammation, and dysregulation of glutamate and dopamine neurotransmitter systems ( 2011 ).

    Another study ( 2013 ) looked into how NAC (taken at doses of 2.4 g/day or 4.8 g/day) compared to a placebo in treating ADHD symptoms. The results showed that NAC helped lessen their symptoms. However, it’s important to note that the patients in this study suffered from an immune system disorder, so it may not apply to generalized ADHD.

  • Phosphatidylserine (PS): Studies suggest that combining phosphatidylserine with omega-3 fatty acids may help ease ADHD symptoms in children. In a study ( 2011 ) of 200 children, those given this combination showed improved mood and reduced hyperactive/impulsive behavior compared to those on placebo.

    Another study ( 2014 ) with 36 children found that phosphatidylserine improved auditory memory and reduced inattention and impulsivity. However, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness and safety.

  • Pine Bark Extract: Some evidence suggests that Pine Bark Extract may work as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, which may have benefits for those with hyperactive type ADHD. One randomized trial ( 2022 ) found that regular doses of Pine Bark Extract were able to reduce hyperactivity symptoms in pediatric cases of ADHD, though more research is needed to fully explore this avenue.

  • Ginseng: Ginseng, a traditional Chinese herbal remedy, is renowned for enhancing brain function and energy levels. "Red ginseng" has shown promise in alleviating ADHD symptoms. 

    Studies ( 2011 ) indicate that it can improve anxiety, personality, and social functioning in children with ADHD. Additionally, a recent study ( 2020 ) suggests that combining omega-3 with Korean red ginseng may enhance memory and attention in children with ADHD.

  • L-Theanine: L-Theanine, an amino acid commonly found in tea leaves, has garnered interest for its potential in enhancing cognitive function. It's being explored as a treatment for ADHD due to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and influence neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.

    Studies ( 20112019 ) suggest that L-Theanine may improve cognitive function, increase alpha brain wave activity, and reduce symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity in children and adults with ADHD. However, more research is needed to establish its effectiveness and determine the appropriate dosage and duration of treatment.

    To learn more, read "Suntheanine vs L-Theanine: Which is the Better Brain Booster?"

  • Lion’s Mane: Lion’s Mane, once obscure, is now renowned as a cognitive enhancer due to its ability to promote nerve growth and improve cognition.

    Studies ( 20152011 ) suggest it stimulates nerve cell growth in the brain, spinal cord, and retina, aiding in creating new neuronal connections and enhancing processing speed. It may also assist in preventing or healing brain tissue damage and age-related cognitive decline. However, consistent daily supplementation is recommended for sustained cognitive benefits, as effects tend to diminish after discontinuation.

    Read "Mushroom Nootropics: What are They and How Can They Help?" to learn more. 

  • MCT Oil/Omega Fats: Essential fats are crucial to brain function, and MCT oil may have some serious benefits for boosting brain function. For instance, taking MCT oil daily is associated with an 8 to 9% increase ( 2013 ) in brain energy. MCT oil can help to prevent cognitive aging by helping to support the repair of brain tissues.

    It may even have a positive impact on gut health , which has an undeniable impact on brain health. Good gut bacteria helps to produce many of the neurochemicals needed for healthy brain function.

  • Alpha-GPC: Alpha-GPC may be useful for increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain. Because of its positive impact on memory and working memory ( 2013 ), it is approved for treating dementia in some countries in Asia.

    However, one study ( 2011 ) found that increased choline intake may be linked to improved cognitive performance even outside of dementia. The research saw improvement in four areas in healthy adults: verbal memory, visual memory, verbal learning, and executive function.

    For those ADHDers relying on caffeine to fuel their focus, Alpha-GPC may overwrite those benefits, too. One study ( 2015 ) comparing the impact of caffeine and alpha-GPC found that alpha-GPC supplementation was associated with an 18% increase in the performance speed of young adults carrying out various physical and mental tasks.

Pros and Cons of Natural vs. Synthetic Nootropics

When considering the use of nootropics for managing ADD or ADHD symptoms, individuals often weigh the advantages and disadvantages of natural and synthetic options.

Each type of nootropic supplement has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, which should be carefully evaluated based on personal preferences, health considerations, and treatment goals. In many cases, natural nootropics may have fewer side effects and may provide the best starting point for those looking to incorporate supplements for ADD.

Let’s compare:

Natural Nootropics:

Pros :

  • Generally safer with fewer side effects

  • Readily available as dietary supplements

  • Potential additional health benefits

Cons :

  • Milder effects, slower onset

  • Variability in potency and dosage

  • Limited research on ADHD efficacy

Synthetic Nootropics:

Pros :

  • Precise dosing and potency

  • Designed for cognitive enhancement

  • Extensive research support


  • Higher risk of adverse effects

  • Restricted availability, prescription requirement

  • Lack of regulation in some markets

Building a Personalized Nootropic Regimen for ADHD

Creating a tailored nootropic regimen for managing ADHD involves assessing individual response and tolerance, considering combinations for synergistic effects, and consulting healthcare professionals.

Here's how to do it:

1. Assess Individual Response and Tolerance:

Everyone’s tolerance and reactions to natural supplements will vary. To critique your reactions, be sure to begin with small doses of individual nootropics and monitor your body's response. Keep a journal to track changes and adjust dosages accordingly.

2. Consider Combination for Synergistic Effects:

Explore combining different nootropics with complementary mechanisms of action. This method, called “nootropic stacking,” may be the most effective way to manage diverse cognition impairments. Every nootropic has unique benefits, and many work synergistically to improve brain health from all aspects. Experiment cautiously with combinations to find the optimal balance.

3. Consult Your Doctor

Seek guidance from healthcare providers before starting a new regimen, especially if you have health conditions or take medications. Regularly update your healthcare provider on your progress and any changes in symptoms or medication.

By following these steps, you can develop a personalized nootropic regimen that effectively manages ADHD symptoms while prioritizing safety and individual needs.

Premade Nootropic Stacks and Their Benefits

Pre-made nootropic stacks are like ready-made smoothies, but for your brain. They're combinations of different brain-boosting ingredients, conveniently packaged into one supplement. These stacks are designed to tackle specific aspects of cognitive function, whether it's improving focus, memory, or overall brain health.

Benefits of Using Pre-formulated Stacks

  • Convenience and Ease of Use : Just like grabbing a pre-packaged snack instead of making one from scratch, premade nootropic stacks offer convenience. You don't have to spend time researching and measuring individual ingredients; it's all done for you. Plus, you can easily take them on the go.

  • Balanced Formulation for Optimized Results: Think of pre-made stacks as a well-balanced meal for your brain. The ingredients are carefully selected and combined to work together synergistically. This means you're getting a balanced blend of nutrients that can enhance their overall effectiveness.

  • No Fuss Dosage : Nootropics stacks are already pre portioned, which takes the guesswork out of configuring your dosage.

Optimizing Neurotransmitters with Nootropics: Role of Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin

Optimizing neurotransmitters plays a crucial role in cognitive function, particularly concerning dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

In managing ADHD, dopamine and norepinephrine are of particular significance as they are closely associated with attention and focus. Norepinephrine dysfunction is associated with the "inattentive" type of ADHD, while dopamine irregularities are linked to the "hyperactive and impulsive" type. Recent studies also implicate serotonin and acetylcholine in the hyperactivity aspect of ADHD, influencing movement, attention, and impulsivity.

Together, these neurotransmitters collaborate to sustain alertness, enhance focus, and bolster motivation, with dopamine serving as the precursor to norepinephrine synthesis.

Dysregulation of these neurotransmitters is commonly observed in individuals with ADHD, contributing to symptoms such as distractibility and impulsivity. Understanding and addressing the balance of dopamine and norepinephrine can be pivotal in developing effective interventions and treatments for ADHD.

Strategies for Boosting Dopamine and Norepinephrine Levels:

To naturally manage ADHD, you need to help regulate your dopamine and norepinephrine levels, but how? Various strategies can be employed to boost dopamine and norepinephrine levels, from nootropics specifically designed to target these neurotransmitters to lifestyle interventions.

Nootropics, such as certain supplements or medications, can directly influence dopamine and norepinephrine levels, potentially enhancing cognitive function and focus. Additionally, lifestyle interventions like regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management techniques, and a balanced diet can also positively impact the production and regulation of these neurotransmitters, promoting overall cognitive well-being.

In other words, nootropics may work as part of a healthy cognition management regimen, but you should also focus on lifestyle factors such as:

  • Getting enough exercise . At least 20 minutes of cardio per day is helpful for boosting cognition.

  • Eating a healthy diet. Some sources suggest that a low-carb, high fat diet may be best for brain health. Others indicate that gluten intolerance may irritate ADHD symptoms. Ultimately, your diet should be tailored to fit your needs and free of heavily processed foods and excess sugar.

  • Staying hydrated: Dehydration causes brain fog, worsening ADHD symptoms. Plus, many nootropics and other supplements won't work correctly if the body isn't properly hydrated.

Integrating these approaches into one's routine can offer a comprehensive approach to optimizing dopamine and norepinephrine levels for improved cognitive performance.

Considerations for Serotonin Optimization

When considering serotonin optimization, it's essential to acknowledge its role in mood regulation, as serotonin is a key neurotransmitter involved in maintaining emotional balance and stability. Additionally, serotonin's interplay with other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, further emphasizes its significance beyond mood regulation alone.

The intricate relationship between serotonin and these other neurotransmitters highlights the importance of achieving a balanced neurochemical environment for overall mental well-being. Therefore, strategies aimed at optimizing serotonin levels should be mindful of its broader impact on emotional health and its interactions with other key neurotransmitters in the brain.

Addressing Acetylcholine Imbalance in ADHD

In addressing ADHD, it's important to understand the crucial role of acetylcholine in cognitive function. Acetylcholine is vital for memory consolidation, learning processes, and maintaining attention and focus.

Dysregulation of acetylcholine levels can significantly impact cognitive performance, contributing to ADHD symptoms. Strategies to boost acetylcholine levels can effectively address these challenges. This includes using specific nootropics that target acetylcholine synthesis and ensuring the health of acetylcholine neuroreceptors.

By optimizing acetylcholine levels and supporting receptor function, interventions can potentially improve memory, learning, attention, and focus in individuals with ADHD. Some of the nootropics listed earlier, like Alpha-GPC, may have a positive impact on acetylcholine levels.


Nootropics offer promising avenues for managing ADHD symptoms, providing alternatives to traditional treatments. Informed decision-making and collaboration with healthcare professionals are essential for safe and effective use. Continued research and exploration are crucial for unlocking their full potential in ADHD management.

Lucid beverages contain a blend of brain-boosting nootropics + powerful mushrooms designed to unlock your brain's full potential so you can zone in on what's important. 

Ready to become lucid?  Check out our starter kit. 


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