Buried in the fine print of an article in Wikipedia, I found some rather disturbing information.

A number of releasing agents, notably many of those derived from amphetamine, have been found to be neurotoxic to serotonin and/or dopamine neurons via damage to axons and dendrites, enzymes, mitochondria, DNA, plasmalemmal and vesicular transporters, and the cell membrane, ultimately causing cell death or apoptosis as a result. Examples include amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, fenfluramine, and PCA, among others.


What this says essentially is that amphetamines can damage neurons and cause cell death. But the piperidine compounds aren’t as  toxic – that’s Ritalin, Concerta and Daytrana:

In contrast, piperazine, aminoindane, and oxazoline releasing agents, as well as those from various other chemical families, are considered to be either fully nontoxic, or significantly less toxic in comparison.

Methylphenidate belongs to the piperidine class of compounds and increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain through reuptake inhibition of the monoamine transporters. It also increases the release of dopamine and norepinephrine. MPH possesses structural similarities to amphetamine, and, though it is less potent, its pharmacological effects are even more closely related to those of cocaine.[1][2][3]

I’ve written here previously about Dr. Tracy Ware’s assertion that amphetamines aren’t such a good choice for our ADD brains, even if they do help our focus and concentration. And that Ritalin (methyphenadate) isn’t quite so bad. This article supports her opinion.

Darn it. Just when we found something that would at least wake up our brains a little, allow us to focus, the ultimate effect is negative. I sure don’t want cell death in my neurons. I think it’s back to caffeine for me. But in small doses so my heart doesn’t go pitty-pat in ways it shouldn’t.  (sigh)  Don’t you wish this was easier?