ELI5: How does a drug like Adderall cause the brain to become more focused, and are there any natural supplements that have the same effect. If not, why not?

Adderall changed my life, but in an "experimenting with drugs" kind of way.

Basically for the first time in my life Adderall let me know what it was like to really experience deep focusing. This is significant, because it's not always easy to tell what focus feels like if it just comes and goes willy-nilly. There's something illuminating about "I took this pill 15 minutes to 4 hours ago, so my focus should be improved, let's see what's different now"

I had a prescription for Adderall for several years, and part of what experimenting did was help me recognize this kind of mental clarity when I wasn't on it. Over time I figured out what helped.


Yeah, nobody believes this. It's not established in the scientific literature. I'll share my anecdote anyway at the risk of offending someone.

Eat a whole-food plant-based diet. That is, stop eating processed and refined carbohydrates and cut out meat, dairy, eggs, and fish.

Is this diet well established for anything else? Yes, actually. There's a lot of support for this diet curing many diseases of affluence, like heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. It's covered in The China Study.

I adopted it because my bloodwork was starting to creep towards worrisome level and it completely reversed the course of my life in a positive direction. Just by changing what I ate my blood work went from on the bad side of normal to the extremely good side of abnormal. I have much more energy now, wake up earlier, can handle getting so little sleep better, feel eager to exercise, blah blah blah.

Anyway one of the effects which was not expected is that I was able to stop taking Adderall.

Don't get me wrong, it's not as amazingly good as Adderall, which gives you super-human focus. But changing my diet improved my focus enough where taking Adderall wasn't as huge a win anymore: it made the side-effects less worthwhile.

/r/explainlikeimfive Thread