One of the most frequent questions we see asked in nootropics forums and on nootropics review sites is how pre-made nootropic stacks like Alpha Brain compare to synthetic smart drugs and pharmaceuticals like Adderall.
Some people have suggested that Alpha Brain can act as a great over-the-counter alternative to Adderall. Others have published very negative reviews of Alpha Brain, claiming that it doesn’t do anything at all. If you’ve read our review of Alpha Brain, you’ll know that we are not huge fans either!
Our opinions on Alpha Brain aside, it is worth considering how Adderall and Alpha Brain compare to one another. If we’re looking at Alpha Brain vs Adderall as a head-to-head comparison, which is the better choice for you? Which is better at improving cognitive function, Adderall or Onnit Alpha Brain? Which is the safer alternative? Read on to find out!
What is Alpha Brain?
Alpha Brain is a natural nootropic supplement made by Onnit. These guys now make a couple of nootropics and related products, such as New Mood and Shroom Tech. But Alpha Brain (and increasingly Alpha Brain Instant) is still their primary product and their main money-maker. They claim that Alpha Brain is among the best nootropics on the market today.
Alpha Brain claims to be a complete daily nootropic capable of improving every aspect of cognitive performance, including:
Alpha Brain promises to specifically help you get into a ‘flow state’; a state of intense focus and peak mental performance.
Unfortunately, we aren’t convinced that Alpha Brain can actually do any of this. We will cover this more in the ingredients section, but the Alpha Brain formula is full of unproven, ineffective substances. It contains few powerful nootropics known to have positive cognitive effects. Worse still, these ingredients are lumped together in proprietary blends, which means we don’t know how they are dosed!
What is Adderall?
Adderall is perhaps the single most recognizable study drug in the world. Designed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Adderall is actually a collection of 4 amphetamine salts with different rates of absorption and release. The idea is that by stacking these different forms of aphetamine, you can prolong and focus the action of the stimulant to make it more beneficial to people who need help staying focused.
One thing that cannot be disputed is that, in the context of severe ADD/ADHD, Adderall works. Clinical trials show that people with ADHD display signifciantly improved attention and focus and dramatically better impulse control and behavior modulation while on Adderall.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Adderall is a prescription drug. It is not available for purchaisng over the counter like Alpha Brain and other natural nootropics. If you do not have ADHD diagnosed by a doctor and a valid Adderall prescription, you will not be able to legally buy the study drug in the US, Canada, UK, EU or Australia.
Adderall vs Alpha Brain Ingredients
When comparing ingredients, Alpha Brain and Adderall could not get more different.
Alpha Brain’s ingredients are all natural dietary supplements. Every ingredient is either derived from plants or found naturally in our food or bodies. The formula is designed to improve brain function in a very broad and sustainble way, with different ingredients promoting different aspects of brain function and brain cell health.
For example, herbal extracts like Oat Straw are supposed to reduce stress and anxiety while Alpha Brain ingredients like Alpha-GPC and Huperzine A increase acetylcholine levels, thereby improving concentration and working memory. Whether or not these ingredients work is dealt with in detail in our review of Alpha Brain’s ingredients.
Adderall, by contrast, is one of the strongest sitmulants in existence and easily one of the hardest hitting cognitive enhancers.
As already stated, Adderall is a brand name of a drug which contains 4 different amphetamine salts: amphetamine aspartate monohydrate, amphetamine sulfate, dextroamphetamine saccharate, and dextroamphetamine sulfate.
The only active ingredient in Adderall – amphetamine – rapidly increases mental energy, reaction times, processing speeds, and focus. It works by increasing norepinephrine levels in the brain, which dramatically increases CNS excitability and increases overall brain activity.
Alpha Brain vs Adderall Side Effects
Obviously when looking at Adderall vs Alpha Brain, one of the main areas of difference is going to be the side effects and health risks.
All smart drugs pose significantly greater side effect risks than high quality natural nootropics. However, in this case, both Adderall and Alpha Brain pose notable side effect risks that need to be discussed.
Alpha Brain contains natural ingredients, but some of these ingredients are known to cause adverse effects. In particular, the Huperzine A is known to cause problems relating to acetylcholine buildups in the brain.
Common side effects of taking Onnit Alpha Brain include:
- Muscle cramps
- Stomach cramps
- Depression and anxiety
Adderall poses even greater side effect risks than Alpha Brain. In fact, Alpha Brain side effects risks are nothing compared to Adderall’s! So when comparing Alpha Brain to Adderall, we have to say here that Alpha Brain wins.
Adderall is an extremely powerful drug. The active ingredients are amphetamine salts. It is a prescription drug used to treat severe cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If you are going to take Adderall without a prescription or if you do not have ADHD, you are going to experience significant adverse effects.
Common side effects of using Adderall, especially off-label, include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Panic attacks
- Poor memory
- Loss of focus/scattered thoughts
Using Adderall on a regular basis without the supervision of a medical doctor can have long-term effects on your cognitive function and your health. You can cause brain cell damage when abusing stimulant drugs like Adderall; studies have observed brain cell degeneration from stimulant abuse. It is vital that you do not use stimulant drugs like Adderall without the advice of a medical professional.
This is not medical advice and we are not doctors. You must do your own research carefully before using either Alpha Brain or Adderall, and consult with your regular physician before using any nootropics whatsoever.
Which is better, Adderall or Onnit Alpha Brain?
It is very difficult to pick a clear winner between Alpha Brain vs Adderall.These are two completely different nootropic substances with different target users, different effects, and different adverse effects.
Generally speaking, if you do not have ADHD diagnosed by a medical doctor, then you are better off using natural nootropics like Alpha Brain rather than abusing prescription pharmaceuticals like Adderall. Using Adderall off-label will invariably cause serious side effects and potentially long-term health effects too.
That said, Alpha Brain is a pretty terrible nootropic stack.
It is full of bogus herbal extracts that do absolutely nothing for cognitive function. With the few effective nootropics it does contain, we have serious issues with the dosages. There’s just not enough firepower in here to really improve cognition. It certainly doesn’t have comparable nootropic power to Adderall!
If you’re looking for enhanced focus, learning and mental energy, we strongly recommend checking out our recommended Adderall alternative right now.
- Alternatives to Adderall
- Alpha Brain review
- Alpha Brain Black Label review
- Alpha Brain vs Mind Lab Pro
- Best nootropic for ADHD
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.