Ritalin and Concerta are part of a family of drugs called Neurostimulants and while the two share a number of similarities, (not including their delivery mechanism), they are chemically speaking the same compound, Methylphenidate, which means that they’re both synethetic molecules. Now substances of this nature do have their place in the learning process, (they’re also excellent at helping to modify certain behavioural issues) and we do suggest that parents with children who really do have a legitimate issue with ADHD consider a course, (at their doctor’s discretion*) of either Ritalin or Concerta. If nothing else a few weeks on such a compound can strongly indicate whether the issue is truly one of concentration or if there is another, underlying issue, at play. This is especially true in the case of ADHD when there are often comorbid behavioural issues present.
With that said we believe in going the natural route, at least initially and there are number of nutraceuticals that oftentimes provide the same effects, (or at least measurably similar ones) that Concerta and Ritalin do but without any of the contraindications. Below are two of our favourites!
Lion’s Main, (a Medicinal Mushroom)
Fungi hold more unique properties than almost any other natural organism, (there’s a reason mushrooms hold their own kingdom within Taxonomy). This is especially true regarding Medicinal Mushrooms, see when used correctly they can be viewed as a natural Nootropic, (Nootropics are compounds, natural and synthetic, that enhance cognitive performance). Hericium Erinaceus, also known as Lion’s Mane, has been studied extensively for its efficaciousness in improving memory, focus and in reducing depression and anxiety. Lion’s Mane works by introducing more Brain Derived Neurotrophin Factor (BDNF) into the brain. What the heck is BDNF you ask? Well it’s a protein and part of the family of Neurotrophin growth factors and in this context its primary reason for being is to help create new neurons through the process of Neurogenesis. This Neurogenesis tends to occur primarily in the forebrain, (the forebrain is the name for the anterior or front part of the brain) and it is where decision making takes place as well as being the hub of all memory. Higher order thinking also occurs in this region of the brain.
The math here is simple, more neurons are going to directly correlate to an increase in memory, learning, concentration etc.
Lion’s Mane comes in a variety of forms including teas and capsules, although for a child we recommend the capsulated form as it’s not the most pleasant tasting of beverages.
You can purchase Lion’s Mane without prescription from your local health store or natural supplement shop.
If you’ve tried Lion’s Mane and other medicinal mushrooms and are still finding that your child is struggling to perform and or concentrate then might we suggest you give Prime Mind a go. Prime Mind is a shotgun supplement we’ve discovered that may produce a number of benefits similar to that of the before mentioned synthetic stimulants. What we like about Prime Mind is that it’s not a proprietary blend, it’s simply a compounded formula of readily available molecules, these include:
A highly bio-available source of choline which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, (high levels of Acetylcholine have been linked to superior levels of cognition and learning).
An Amino acid derivative vital for cognitive functioning, increasing communication between brain cells and the ability to cross the Blood Brain Barrier.
Pine Bark Extract
A natural extract known for its neuroprotective and antioxidant properties. Pycnogenol is used to increase cerebral blood flow and prevent accumulation of oxidatively damaged proteins for optimal cognition.
A cognitive enhancer derived from the plant Huperzia Serrata which increases acetylcholine levels and assists in the creation of new neural connections.
A nootropic known to increase cerebral blood flow in the brain resulting in increased oxygen and glucose uptake.
A nootropic herb used in ancient traditional medicines as a natural “brain tonic”, widely used for its adaptogenic and brain health effects.
Lions Mane Mushroom
Considered to be one of the most powerful natural nootropics, known to increase BDNF, which is linked to increased neuronal growth rates.
A patented Peperin extract used to optimize and increase the bioavailability of nutritional compounds. Resulting in increased absorption and effectiveness!
Vitamin B-6 (Pyroxidine HCL)
A naturally occurring B vitamin with core functions in energy metabolism, brain functioning and the production of vital neurotransmitters.
Okay so if you’re not biochemically inclined you might of felt like you actually needed Prime Mind to understand what it actually is. In short a natural formulation that combines Adptogenic herbs with natural Nootropics to produce one of the most powerful and safe formulations we’ve come across.
Prime Mind is created by Prime Self and is available directly from their site.
At the end of the day if your child really does have true ADHD or ADD these compounds by themselves may not have the same efficacy as either Ritalin or Concerta, however when you factor in other healthy lifestyle practices, such as a low glycaemic whole foods diet, consistent sleep and exercise, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much progress your child can make academically.
Whilst this is far from a complete list of alternatives to Methylphenidate it is a decent place to start. What have you used with your child to help increase concentration and mood that you have found effective?
This is not, nor is it meant to be portrayed as, medical advice. Before altering your any aspect of your health we suggest consulting a licenced medical practitioner.