The ultimate run-down on prescription stimulants’ benefits, side effects and how to best and safely take stimulants.
In this article:
- Stimulant therapy overview
- ADHD Treatment Best Practice
- Supplements to mitigate stimulant side-effects
The most common prescription stimulants
Today, 16M Americans over the age of 18 are using prescription stimulants. Leading stimulants include:
- Adderall® (intermediate-acting), Adderall XR® (long-acting)
- Concerta® (long-acting)
- Focalin® (short-acting), Focalin XR® (long-acting)
- Ritalin® (short-acting), Ritalin LA® (long-acting), Ritalin SR® (intermediate-acting)
- Vyvanse® (long-acting)
Where prescription stimulants fall short
While stimulant therapy can be life changing, it can also cause several short and long term side effects, leading to an occasionally unpleasant experience. The most common side effects include:
- Nervousness, jitters, and anxiety disorders
- Decreased appetite, or binge eating disorders
- Fatigue, sleeplessness and Insomnia
- Anhedonia, social withdrawal, and depression disorders
- Visual disturbances such as blurred vision
As this medication has become more widely prescribed, the medical community has begun exploring strategies to offset these symptoms, leading to a significantly improved superior stimulant experience.
Proven strategies to minimize side effects
Limit or avoid the following:
- Caffeine late in the day: Caffeine can increase the effects of stimulants and interfere with sleep. Since studies show that caffeine is active in bloodstreams for six hours, it’s a good rule of thumb to stop drinking coffee at least six hours hours before bedtime.
- Acidic Drinks: Acidic drinks with Vitamin C can cause your medication to wear off or halt the absorption of stimulants, so avoid the OJ until you’re ready to wind down.
- Fasting: While you may not have an appetite while on stimulants, maintaining healthy blood sugar is crucial to staying energized and keeping your mood high. Aim to eat at least one sugary snack every ~30 minutes!
- Overheating: Overheating while on stimulants can increase neurotoxicity. Wearing lighter colors and clothing, drinking plenty of fluids, and limiting intense exercising on warm days help reduce the risk of overheating.
Make these tweaks to your routine:
- Yoga: Regularly practicing yoga can strengthen the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision making, planning, and focus – all of which are more difficult for a person with ADHD. Here is a great yoga routine for people with ADHD!
- Meditation: Meditation is thought to help with ADHD because it thickens your prefrontal cortex, a part of your brain that’s involved in focus, planning, and impulse control. It also raises your brain’s level of dopamine, which is in short supply in ADHD brains.
- Proper Hydration: Staying hydrated supports your brain health and improves brain functioning. Keep a bottle on you at all times and leave a glass of water on your nightstand before sleeping to encourage you to start your day with a glass of water.
- Sufficient Sleep: People with ADHD who experience sleeplessness often report more severe ADHD symptoms and a lower quality of life. They may also be more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, difficulty processing information, and a higher BMI. To improve sleep quality, try avoiding hyper-focusing activities in the evening, using a weighted blanket, and making the bedroom a device-free zone reserved for sleep.
Supplement with these:
Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, and with good reason. Saffron increases the amount of serotonin available in thebrain, which regulates mood and has been shown to reduce compulsive behavior, a major side effect of stimulants. It also has been proven to increase libido, and fight oxidative stress.
Dosing: 20 to 30 mg/day is clinically indicated to help alleviate mild to moderate depression
Extracted from Magnolia Bark, studies show DHH-B to primarily impact the GABA pathway, promoting feelings of calmness and relaxation without the side effects of sedation. DHH-B also modulates the body’s stress response to cortisol, reducing the perception of stress and anxiety.
Dosing: 1-5 mg/kg bodyweight
Oceanix™ is a marine microalgae that exhibits the highest SOD activity found currently in nature, activating 3 antioxidant enzymes that play a critical role in preventing oxidative stress. It is the only antioxidant agent able to react against the production of destructive molecules that cause cellular deterioration, neutralizing up to 1 million free radicals.
Dosing: 25 mg
Baicalein/Baicalin is one of the major bioactive components of Scutellaria radix, a Chinese herb with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that it can ameliorate depressive-like symptoms caused by neuro-inflammation, protect against dopaminergic neuron damage, and inhibit oxidative stress.
Dosing: 200-800 mg
The ideal supplement blend for the regular stimulant user.
The optimal stimulant supplementation regimen includes over a dozen other ingredients, and if done in the proper dosages, can include over 20 pills. In addition to being difficult to consume, it can be costly and time-consuming to adequately research and purchase the necessary ingredients.
Recently, companies like Stasis have made it their mission to provide supplements that include all the ingredients clinically shown to support people on stimulants. Use the code, “Neuropedia1” for a 10% discount on your first purchase for the ultimate stimulant experience.
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