6 Nootropic Supplements That Don’t Involve Taking Adderall

6 Nootropic Supplements That Don’t Involve Taking Adderall

Not all "study drugs" involve addictive, prescription pills.

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I get it – college is stressful. You've only got 24 hours in the day and you have to find time for classes, studying and work while still trying to maintain a healthy social or dating life.

There just aren't enough hours in the day, so many college students turn to Adderall or other prescription medications to keep them awake.

Why are these prescription meds so popular among college students and what alternatives can you try that aren't as harmful?

Why Are College Students Turning to Adderall?

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When prescribed by a doctor, Adderall is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. This prescription stimulant helps to reduce the symptoms of ADHD in individuals who actually live with the condition.

In people without ADHD, taking Adderall is like drinking a lot of coffee – if there is no hyperactivity to control, Adderall is simply a stimulant which makes it a popular study drug.

Upwards of three-quarters of prescription stimulant drug users are using it for academic purposes - to help them focus or stay awake longer so they can study. While it might work in the short term, studies have shown that stimulants like Adderall don't actually make you more productive.

Not only will it not make you more productive, it can even make you less productive, and make it more difficult to focus on the things that you actually need to focus on – which for college students would include studying. Staying awake on stimulants means that you aren't getting enough sleep – and that can make it hard to focus.

If Adderall is a bad idea for productivity, is there any alternative? Here are some non-prescription nootropic supplements for brain health.

1. Fish Oils

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids are found in fish oil and are part of a healthy diet. Making sure you have enough of these fish oils in your diet can help you improve your heart health, but that's not all these fatty acids can do.

Many studies have shown that one of these acids, DHA, actually makes up around 25 percent of the total fat of your brain, and 90 percent of omega-3 fatty acids found in your brain cells. Getting enough of these, either in your diet or via supplements, has been shown to improve memory and reaction times.

If you're not a fan of fish like salmon or other fatty fish that are rich in DHA, consider adding some fish oil or omega-3 supplements to your diet.

2. Gingko Biloba

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Its name might sound funny, but gingko biloba has been used as part of Asian medicine for centuries. In recent years, this herb has been shown to improve brain health by improving the blood flow in smaller blood vessels.

It might even be useful as a complementary treatment for Alzheimer's disease. In the short term, taking gingko can help with mental ability mood and alertness – making it the perfect nootropic supplement for college students.

3. Resveratrol

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Usually found in red and blue fruits, resveratrol is an antioxidant that has been shown to improve memory in small human studies and in multiple animal studies.

If you're not a fan of fruit salad, don't worry – this antioxidant can also be found in red wine and dark chocolate, so enjoy those in moderation!

4. Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Photo by Simone van der Koelen

These two might be a bit more difficult to get your hands on, at least for now. Thankfully, they can be found in things like corn, eggs and leafy greens. Lutein and zeaxanthin have both been shown to increase brain health and performance in double-blind placebo human studies.

We don't generally get enough of these in our diet though – most people only get about two milligrams of each of these materials. While that is enough for zeaxanthin, it's recommended that you get at least 10 mg of lutein in daily.

5. Vitamin E

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You usually see Vitamin E in skin care products, but recent studies have shown that it can also help improve brain health.

Make sure you're getting enough Vitamin E in your diet – either through the foods you eat or supplements that you can take. It won't be an instant fix but over time it can help improve your focus and help you make the most of the time you do spend studying.

6. Caffeine

Photo by Tyler Nix

This is a stimulant you're probably fairly familiar with already. It's found in teas, coffees and chocolates naturally and can also be added to a variety of other foods and drinks.

It works by stimulating both the brain and the central nervous system and studies have shown that caffeine can help improve brain function, reaction times and memory in addition to making you feel more energized.

Don't take too much caffeine though – between 200 and 400 mg a day is considered safe. Depending on the coffee you drink, that can be one cup or eight.

Even if you're stressing over your class load, your homework or your upcoming finals, you don't need to resort to using Adderall or other prescription stimulants to get the job done.

There are plenty of non-prescription nootropic supplements that can help just as much without all the nasty side effects.

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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I'll Always Be An Organ Donor

I mean, outside of the cute little heart I get to have on my state ID.

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Check yes, nod at the clerk, give them a big thumbs up... It's really not hard to sign up as an organ donor. For me, it looks less than five seconds when buying a state ID to tell my clerk that yes, I did want to donate my organs to anyone in need after I died.

Organ donors like myself are always in high demand, especially because only 3 in 1,000 people die in ways that allow for an organ transplant. That wouldn't be too bad if the vast majority of people were organ donors, but only 54% of Americans are signed up to be donors.

Unsplash- Thoracic cavity

But why aren't people donors?

One word: religion.

While most all major religions are not in opposition of organ donation, studies have found that people will cite their religious beliefs are why they're opposed to donating their organs. Many people believe that they may not have access to the afterlife if their bodies aren't fully intact, but I have a problem with this logic.

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." Hebrews 6:10.

"None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." Saheeh Al-Bukarhi.

Most large religions have this reoccurring theme of altruism, and that's what organ donation is all about: sharing something you have with someone less fortunate. Giving them a body part that I'll no longer be using won't harm me, it will help them, and it will hopefully look good if there's a Big Guy Upstairs.

Unsplash- heart made from neon lights

So go watch an episode of "The Bachelor." In those 60 minutes, 6 people have been added to the organ transplant list.

Go spend a relaxing weekend at the beach. In those two days, 40 people died waiting for an organ transplant.

Go to the DMV. Check that box. Save a life. Save eight lives, even. Be that person's shot at a second life.

It's not like anything is stopping you.

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