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Child Development

The Best Adderall Alternatives For Children

October 20, 2022
Table of Contents

    Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD impacts a significant percentage of the population and is considered a very common disability or condition. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is most frequently diagnosed in childhood, but it impacts people of all ages and can be diagnosed at any point in a person’s life. 

    The first line of pharmacological treatment for those who live with ADHD is a class of medication called central nervous system stimulants. Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant medication that is FDA-approved to treat ADHD. It provides a boost in cognitive function, helping people who take it to stay focused. 

    When a physician prescribes these medications, it’s because the potential benefit outweighs the risk. That said, what works for one person might not work for another, even if they have the same condition. This might lead a parent to wonder - what are the best Adderall alternatives for children with ADHD? 

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    Benefits of Adderall Alternatives

    Everyone reacts to medication differently. Most often, when a parent seeks out an alternative to Adderall, it is to mitigate the possible side effects and risks associated with central nervous system stimulant medication, such as slowed growth, weight loss, or loss of appetite. 

    It may be that a medication trial failed, or it might be that Adderall alternatives are a preference of the family for another reason. Although no over-the-counter supplements are approved to treat ADHD symptoms, there are various possible alternatives to medication for ADHD that a parent might wish to explore to improve their child’s cognitive performance.

    Adderall Alternatives For ADHD Kids

    When you learn about the possible natural alternatives that a person might use for ADHD, it can help you make an informed choice. Here are some of the Adderall alternatives and ADHD natural supplements that a parent might explore for their child: 

    Joon - A Video Game for ADHD

    Although this is not a supplement, Joon can be used to help an ADHD child focus naturally. Joon is a motivational reward system for children with ADHD that combines fun games with daily tasks and goals. The mobile app helps children stay focused and complete their daily tasks by using video game technology which acts as the reward system.

    How Joon Works

    Children in general love video games, they’re stimulating and fun, but they don’t really learn any important habits or real-life skills from them. Joon combines both of these environments into one. The only way to focus on the game and level up is by focusing on these important real-life tasks first that you the parent assign to your child.

    Parents set up their child’s daily routine and habits you want them to develop and then the video game does all of the motivating, tracking and reminding for you! You'd work alongside your child's ADHD symptoms to build productive habits.

    Benefits of Using Joon

    There are 4 major benefits to using Joon with your child to help with their executive functioning and ADHD symptoms:

    • It is easy to setup, manage, and add to your existing routine
    • The game will help improve your child's focus, task completion, and other executive functioning skills
    • To help your child stick to their daily routine, Joon will send relevant and timely reminders to keep them on track
    • You can choose from a large list of research-backed activities to help your child build important life skills that teach independence

    Joon Reviews

    The game has only been around for 1 year and it has already grossed over 3,500 5-star reviews on the app store. Multiple publications have also been written supporting the game and its future development as well as receiving notable recognition from several prominent Child Development Psychologists and Occupational Therapists.

    While Joon may seem like more of a task management app rather than a video game, many of the positive reviews are actually written by children who not only love playing the game but also love being able to have ownership over their daily schedule and tasks.

    Try Joon Today

    It only takes 5 minutes to download and setup the game for your child. The game can even be played across different devices such as an iPad, Samsung Tablet or even an Amazon Fire Kindle. While current solution for helping alleviate ADHD symptoms in children include expensive therapy and / or stimulant medication, many families have started turning to Joon for an additional (yet less invasive) solution for helping with ADHD symptoms. Click here to download the app for free and try out a 7-day free trial.

    Vitamins and Supplements

    There are several natural alternatives that you can try with your child to alleviate their ADHD symptoms. Below is a list of the 6 most popular alternatives that some parents will choose to try with their children.

    Bacopa monnieri extract

    A supplement called bacopa monnieri extract may lower the severity of symptoms in those with ADHD. 

    Specifically, one study found that standardized bacopa monnieri extract or SBME reduced restlessness in 93% of the children who took part, whereas improvements in self-control were acknowledged in 89% of children and attention deficit symptoms declined in 85%. Furthermore, the study found that bacopa monnieri extract was well-tolerated and, alongside the other aforementioned benefits, can help with impulsivity, psychiatric problems, and trouble learning. In this study, there were 31 participants between the ages of 6 and 12. 

    This research is promising for children who live with ADHD and their families; however, it’s important to note that research on this supplement is limited.

    Vitamin B-6 and magnesium

    B vitamins and magnesium are known to support healthy brain function. Additionally, most of these supplements are safe for most individuals, and some research has been done on their effects on ADHD. 

    One study conducted on a group of 52 children under the age of 15 with an ADHD diagnosis found that a combination of vitamin B-6 and magnesium taken over the course of 1-6 months led to a reduction of hyperexcitability symptoms in all patients involved. Magnesium itself may also be beneficial.

    One of the possible benefits of this combination is accessibility, as both of these supplements are common and easy to find. 


    Some research has found a connection between low levels of iron and ADHD. Similarly, studies suggest that oral iron may lead to a reduction in ADHD symptoms in children with low serum ferritin levels. Iron deficiency is a problem that many people face, and while it is generally well-tolerated, iron can lead to side effects such as GI distress. 

    If someone does have an iron deficiency and is unable to tolerate supplements, they may receive iron intravenously. 

    Note: If you want to try a natural Adderall alternative to keep your child focused and motivated, build great daily habits and have fun while doing so, try the Joon ADHD app. Joon is a great way for a child to develop executive functioning skills simply by playing a game. Download the app to claim your 7-day free trial today.

    Ginkgo biloba 

    Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest known species of trees. It’s a relatively common supplement to come across, and most of the supplements you’ll see on the market are derived from the leaves of the tree.

    Many people use Ginkgo biloba for memory support, inflammation, or circulation, though individuals may purchase the supplement for other reasons, too. 

    What about Ginkgo biloba for ADHD? One study found that Ginkgo biloba is effective as a complementary treatment for ADHD when used alongside 20-30 mg of methylphenidate, a central nervous system stimulant known as the generic version of Ritalin.

    So, if you’re looking for an add-on rather than a direct alternative, this might be one to explore with your child’s doctor. That said, like other supplements, it’s not a known treatment for ADHD. 

    S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe)

    A small study of 8 adults diagnosed with ADHD found that S-Adenosyl-L-methionine led to moderate to marked symptom improvement in 75% of participants. Interestingly, the participants that S-Adenosyl-L-methionine had success in a trial of methylphenidate, whereas the participants who found it ineffective did not. More research is needed on the use of S-Adenosyl-L-methionine, however, especially as it relates to the possibility of long-term usage. 


    Lower GABA concentration is seen in children with ADHD. However, while studies have seen some promising cognitive effects in individuals without ADHD, there is no research or evidence that suggests GABA can treat ADHD. 

    Other Forms of Treatment 

    What if natural alternatives to Adderall don’t work for your child? It doesn’t mean that hope is gone. There are other forms of care to consider that can help with ADHD symptoms. These can include but aren’t limited to:

    • Other ADHD medications. These may include central nervous system stimulants other than Adderall but can also include non-stimulant ADHD medications. Medications can include Modafinil, Concerta, Vyvanse, Adderall XR, etc.
    • Therapy. Behavior therapy (while expensive if not covered by insurance) can be helpful for those with ADHD, as can parent training for the guardians of children who live with ADHD. 

    Other forms of support or parenting approaches may also be advantageous, depending on the unique challenges a child faces. These can include but aren’t limited to behavior charts and reward systems, an IEP at school, or tutoring.

    One thing to keep in mind is that a combination of medication and other forms of treatment is known as the most effective treatment for ADHD. If you do opt for a central nervous system stimulant like Adderall, know that, while it can be misused, it can actually be protective against concerns such as substance use for those with ADHD when taken responsibly and as directed.

    If a person is properly treated, after all, they may be less likely to self-medicate. A doctor can provide you with individualized guidance so that you can give your child medication safely and appropriately. 

    Precautions and Risks

    Even if a dietary supplement is natural, there can be risks and adverse effects that should not be overlooked. 

    Risks of Adderall alternatives may include:

    • Medication interactions. Supplements may interact with medications negatively, and some of these interactions can lead to serious consequences. If your child is on medication of any kind, whether for ADHD or another condition, it is vital to talk with your child’s doctor about possible interactions that might occur. Interactions can also occur between supplements, so if your child is already taking a supplement, or if you are considering the addition of two or more supplements, this is also crucial to discuss. 
    • Lack of regulation or FDA approval. Supplements can be placed on the market without notifying the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If the medication alternative you’re considering for your child is a supplement, it is crucial to bear in mind that the FDA can’t approve dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness. 
    • Side effects. Supplements and over-the-counter remedies can come with side effects. For example, common side effects associated with L-Tyrosine for ADHD include headaches and GI distress. Due to the aforementioned lack of regulation, some of the possible impacts, especially those that are long-term, of certain supplements are unknown. 
    • Lower efficacy. No natural dietary supplements are currently known or approved to treat ADHD, and one possible consequence of using certain supplements is that they may not be as effective as medication or other recommended treatments for ADHD. 
    • Over-consumption. It is possible to take too much of a particular supplement, and the effects of doing so can vary depending on what the supplement is. It’s important to store medications and supplements in an area where young children can’t access them for this reason. 

    It is important to take precautions when you add a new supplement of any kind to your child’s routine. Read the back of the label of the specific supplement or medication alternative you wish to consider for your child and discuss it with their doctor before they start taking it.

    A physician can help you determine the proper dosage of a supplement for your child. Dosage is typically determined based on factors such as weight, age, the medical or mental health conditions a person is diagnosed with, and other medications or supplements someone takes. 

    Look out for any symptoms or changes in your child that may be of concern, and consult a medical provider right away if you need to. 

    Recommended reading: How Much Will Adderall Cost Me If I Don't Have Health Insurance?


    Central nervous system stimulant medications like Adderall are the first recommended prescription medications for those who live with ADHD, and they have a high rate of efficacy. However, some people choose to use natural alternatives.

    Research is somewhat limited on the use of natural alternatives for the treatment of ADHD, and none of them are known to replace the role of ADHD medication. Before you initiate the use of a new supplement, it is imperative to speak with your child’s doctor for individualized guidance. A physician can also help with the dosing of a supplement and any other questions you may have about a particular supplement.

    This article is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for individual medical or mental health advice. Please consult with your or your child's prescribing doctor before changing, starting, or stopping a medication routine.


    Dr. Carrie Jackson, PhD

    Carrie Jackson, Ph.D. is a licensed child psychologist, speaker, and author working in San Diego, California. She has published over 20 articles and book chapters related to parenting, ADHD, and defiance. Dr. Carrie Jackson received her Ph.D. in Psychology, with a specialization in Clinical Child Psychology, from West Virginia University in 2020. She completed her predoctoral internship at Rady Children’s Hospital through the University of California, San Diego. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital before returning to San Diego, California to open her private practice.


    Dr. Carrie Jackson, PhD

    Carrie Jackson, Ph.D. is a licensed child psychologist, speaker, and author working in San Diego, California. She has published over 20 articles and book chapters related to parenting, ADHD, and defiance. Dr. Carrie Jackson received her Ph.D. in Psychology, with a specialization in Clinical Child Psychology, from West Virginia University in 2020. She completed her predoctoral internship at Rady Children’s Hospital through the University of California, San Diego. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital before returning to San Diego, California to open her private practice.