SU students go wild for natural medicine

30 March 2016

Saarah Survé, Stellenbosch Department of Journalism

Stellenbosch – KeenMind, a natural alternative to medications like Concerta and Ritalin, is flying off the shelves at the Eikestad Mall pharmacy in Stellenbosch, according to Michael du Preez, who supervises the pharmacy’s vitamin laboratory.

KeenMind claims to improve mental performance.

“It is our biggest seller at the moment as more students move towards a more natural option. We recommend it, because students don’t need a script to buy it and it doesn’t cause a crash, like Concerta and Ritalin, which you do need a script for,” said Du Preez, a biochemist.

Du Preez advised students to skip a weekend of partying and invest in their health instead, which will in turn benefit their education, as they will be able to concentrate better.

“In relative terms, these supplements are not expensive; R205 to R250 for a month’s supply is a tiny price to pay for delayed gratification.”

Du Preez said that KeenMind can work as quickly as three to four days. He added that no serious side effects have been recorded.

Du Preez has first-hand experience with Ritalin, as he was prescribed the drug at age 13. He says that it changed his character. “You become subdued. It’s like a tranquiliser.”

Similarly, Jacques Booyens, a Stellenbosch University (SU) graduate, began using Ritalin at the age of eight. He stopped this year and is studying for the first time without any medication.

Booyens admitted to trying a few natural products for focus, but felt like a lot of them were “just snake oil.”

De-Ann Snyders, a Stellenbosch student in industrial engineering, was also diagnosed with ADD and has been on Concerta for two years.

Snyders said that she tried Bio-Strath, a daily herbal nutritional supplement, but that taking the medication became too much administration for someone with ADD. “It took four days to get into my system and I had to take six pills a day. As someone with ADD, I don’t understand why people want this drug so much.”

“It’s also expensive (about R460 for 300 tablets) and made me very agitated. I felt like a zombie,” said Snyders. “If you don’t need it, stay away. It will help anyone concentrate better, but once you realize that it helps, it can become addictive,” she warned.

Du Preez said that it is important for students to know that there are natural options available, like KeenMind, which doesn’t have negative side effects. He asked students to consider these before they take other medications, such as Ritalin and Concerta.

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