Nowadays, many athletes and even typical people (especially the elderly) use brain-enhancing drugs. Some of them can be bought without prescription (over-the-counter), while others are exclusively prescriptive.
Here we will overview one of the most popular nootropic supplements on the market: Focus Factor and Adderall.
Table of Contents
- What are Focus Factor and Adderall?
- What is Focus Factor?
- What is Adderall?
- Focus Factor vs. Adderall: Conclusion
What are Focus Factor and Adderall?
You may have heard of a fancy word to describe any supplement that increases mental capacity.
Those are called nootropics or cognitive enhancers 1. In general, nootropics fall into three categories: dietary supplements, synthetic compounds, and prescription drugs. They can be used for a variety of reasons:
Sportspeople who require a considerable amount of thinking (e.g., professional chess players) utilize before competitions to raise their performance. This action provoked huge controversy in the past few decades. Currently, no one knows whether nootropic supplements help performance.
Older adults may use them to prevent cognitive decline and dementia, which are associated with neuronal degeneration. Other neurodegenerative diseases may be prevented or at least slowed down with the use of nootropics, but the evidence is limited 2. Such diseases include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and others.
But most importantly, millions of everyday people use nootropics to increase mental functions such as memory, creativity, motivation, and attention.
Before you decide to buy any nootropics, please discuss usage with your doctor.
What is Focus Factor?
How Does Focus Factor Work?
- Improves focus & performance
- Promotes concentration, memory and verbal learning
- Made from premium ingredients
Focus Factor is regarded as one of the most widespread mental health supplements in the USA. Synergy CHC Corporation produces it (the CHC stands for Consumer Health Care).
The company primarily focuses on cosmeceuticals (products that have both cosmetic and therapeutic effects) and nutraceuticals (a product derived from food sources with extra health benefits against diseases).
Does Focus Factor work for ADHD & brain health?
Focus Factor has been around for more than 20 years. According to their website, their dietary supplement is “CLINICALLY SHOWN TO IMPROVE MEMORY, CONCENTRATION, AND FOCUS“. It seems that they have no problem with capitalization!
They also claim that Focus Factor is “Clinically proven and America’s #1 Brain Health Supplement for Over 10 years.”. By clinically proven, they mean double-blind, placebo-controlled studies which they have conducted. Unfortunately, no other study was done to reinforce that evidence.
Focus Factor: The Ingredients List
The ingredients of Focus Factor changed dramatically over the past 20 years. There are 5 varieties available: Original Formula, Extra Strength, Brain and Vision, Focus Factor for Kids, etc.
If we look closer at one of those containers label, there are lots of constituents written there. This includes more than 40 vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other ingredients. Many of them are just standard vitamins, such as C, D, E, and B vitamins. You can get those vitamins in a multivitamin very cheaply in a pharmacy.
The supplement also lists 700 milligrams of a synergistic and proprietary blend that contains omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
Omega-3 fatty acids – They can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which means they promote healthier neural cells and less brain deterioration 3.
Antioxidants are essential for brain health, as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, contributing to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases 4.
The important thing is that both omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants are pretty low if we consider the price of the product. Additionally, these two are not yet proven to improve memory, mental clarity, and concentration significantly, and more research is needed to approve them.
This supplement contains other interesting ingredients: DMAE (Dimethylethanolamine bitartrate), phosphatidylserine, and huperzine A. While they show some evidence in improving memory and mental function, those studies were small and conducted chiefly in people with dementia. The quantity in the supplement is low for the average adult as well.
Brain and Vision contain 2 additional ingredients: Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These 2 regarded as essential for eye health 5. The Lutein dosage at 15 mg seems meager, but Zeaxanthin dosage appears sufficient.
To conclude, Focus Factor contains so many ingredients that it becomes challenging to recognize working for you.
Focus Factor: Dosages
The recommended serving for Focus Factor differs according to the variety of the products:
- The original Focus Factor is 4 tablets per day.
- Extra Strength is 4 tablets per day.
- Brain and Vision are 4 tablets per day.
- Focus Factor for Kids is 2 tablets per day.
Focus Factor: Safety
As already mentioned, Focus Factor consists of numerous ingredients with low dosages. That translates to a high degree of safety.
Having said that, the long-term safety of some ingredients has not been tested. This dietary supplement contains a plethora of vitamins. Hypervitaminosis can cause toxicity.
Signs of hypervitaminosis include:
- nausea & vomiting
- sudden fever
- headache & muscle aches
- low blood pressure
Focus Factor: Pricing
Prices vary according to the type of the package and the location of the product. On Amazon, you may find the following prices for each type:
- Focus Factor Original – $30 for 180 tablets.
- Focus Factor Brain & Vision – $40 for 120 tablets.
- Focus Factor Extra Strength – $40 for 120 tablets.
- Focus Factor Kids Extra Strength – $25 for 120 tablets.
If we compare these prices to the typical multivitamin dietary supplements of the same dosage, they are at least 5 times more expensive.
Focus Factor: Reviews
If we look at Amazon reviews on Focus Factor Extra Strength (the most popular type), it generally has positive reviews with 4.2/5. Many people claim that it improved their mental clarity and concentration.
What is Adderall?
How Does Adderall Work?
- Improves cognition
- Improves working memory
- Improves long-term episodic memory
Unlike its competitor, Adderall is not a dietary supplement 6.
Before taking Adderall, it is vital to talk to your doctor first since Adderall is an actual drug and may have serious consequences on your health.
Also, make sure to tell your doctor about any preexisting physical or mental health problems you have.
Adderall and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Adderall is a brand name for the combination drug, consisting of 2 parts: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is classified as a stimulant, and most are the first-line treatment for children with ADHD. It can also be used for people with narcolepsy.
Since it is a central nervous system stimulant, Adderall has similar effects on people without ADHD 7.
Adderall can also be used as a recreational drug, and as such, it has a high potential for misuse. It comes in 2 forms: oral tablet and oral capsule.
Adderall and Brain Health
According to numerous studies, Adderall has promising results in improving attention and focus and reducing impulsive behavior. It relieves symptoms in 80% of ADHD patients and increases wakefulness in people with narcolepsy.
What is in Adderall that makes you focus?
From the nootropics point of view, Adderall improves cognition, including working memory, long-term episodic memory, inhibitory control, and some aspects of attention, in normal healthy adults.
According to a 2014 systemic review, it also improves memory consolidation 8. Amphetamine generally improves performance on exhausting and monotonous tasks. For that reason, some students use Adderall to boost their achievements.
Adderall: Side Effects
Since it can interfere with your sleep, you should take Adderall in the morning.
The doctors prescribe a low dosage at first to observe the body’s reaction before slowly increasing it. Still, there can be potential side effects, including:
- slowed speech
- dry mouth
- weight loss
- difficulties in sleeping
- changes in vision
- changes in sex drive (in adults)
Most of those side effects are temporal and go away after you stop taking the drug. There can also be a serious allergic reaction that will cause swelling of the throat, face, or tongue. However, such medical emergencies rarely occur.
Most of the stimulants are addictive, and you might become dependent on them. That’s why it’s so important for doctors to monitor the dosages and responses very carefully.
Focus Factor vs. Adderall: Conclusion
Since those two are completely different categories of substances, it is difficult to compare to each other.
Focus F. is a dietary supplement and therefore has fewer side effects. Its effectiveness on mental capacities are dubious, and their claims can be a bit exaggerated.
On the other hand, Adderall is an obvious winner in terms of effectiveness. However, since Adderall is a stimulant drug, it possesses many side effects and risks and requires a doctor’s supervision and prescription.
Are there any natural alternatives as 3rd solution?
If either of the above-reviewed solutions doesn’t sound like a good option for cognitive health and better mental performance, you can check for some natural alternatives which are noted to act as brain boosters: 9
- Ginkgo biloba
- Gotu Kola
- Lemon balm
Also, be sure to check my complete list of best nootropic stacks.
- Nootropic – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (2005). ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/nootropic
- Berry, J. (2019, September 19). What are nootropics (smart drugs)? Medicalnewstoday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326379
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, May 3). Do Omega-3s protect your thinking skills? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/do-omega-3s-protect-your-thinking-skills
- Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain Health foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(7), 568–578. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2421
- Lutein/Zeaxanthin. (2008). Archives of Ophthalmology, 126(9), 1313. https://doi.org/10.1001/archopht.126.9.1313-a
- Adderall Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing – WebMD. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-63163/adderall-oral/details
- MNT Medical Network. (2018, August 28). Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine). Medicalnewstoday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326219
- Bagot, K. S., & Kaminer, Y. (2014). Efficacy of stimulants for cognitive enhancement in non-ADHD youth: a systematic review. Addiction, 109(4), 547–557. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.12460
- Cathy Wong. 7 Best Herbs and Spices for Brain Health. https://www.verywellmind.com/best-herbs-and-spices-for-brain-health-4047818