If you’re tackling mood issues that have been diagnosed as anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, ADHD and even schizophrenia, you may want to dig deeper into a genetic disorder known as Pyrrole disorder or Pyroluria.
People with pyroluria produce an abnormal number of pyrroles, which is a byproduct of hemoglobin synthesis. Pyroles’ bodily function is unknown, however, they bind to specific vitamins and nutrients, such as B6 and zinc, and then push these nutrients out of the system via urine, leaving the body vitamin and nutrient deficient.
Although this disorder affects approximately 10% of the population, it’s not commonly known in the medical community, and therefore, commonly under-diagnosed. Children previously diagnosed with such disorders as ADHD, autism, Tourette’s syndrome, Asperger’s, OCD and other behavioral disorders may actually have pyroluria.
Some key indicators of pyroluria include:
White spots on fingernails
Sweet/ “fruity” breath
Poor wound healing
Poor stress management
Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, odors
Although evidence indicates that pyroluria has genetic predetermination, the onset of the condition usually occurs after a traumatic incident or period of chronic stress. If a family member was impacted by depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, pyroluria rate increases for an individual, so family history plays a role. Environmental factors, however, can also be a trigger. Poor dietary choices and digestive health may lead to pyroluria, as well.
Because pyroluria is not commonly recognized by practitioners, it is estimated that up to 20% of psychiatric patients have pyroluria; in the schizophrenic population, it is estimated to be as high as 40%. Women are more affected than men.
People with pyroluria have been found to have exceptionally low levels of both vitamin B6 and zinc—which are crucial for both physical and mental health. Frequently, symptoms of pyroluria caused by vitamin deficiencies are misdiagnosed and managed with prescription medications for the symptoms without regard to the root cause. Basic lab testing can identify pyroluria, and proper supplementation may resolve symptoms and provide greater quality of life without the need for pharmaceuticals.
Vitamin B6, also known as Pyridoxine, helps support the creation of neurotransmitters, which are part of the brain’s communication system. It also serves as a coenzyme that stimulates and supports other enzymes instrumental to multiple systems, including the immune system. Signs of a B6 deficiency include anxiety, mood swings, seizures, impaired immune function, fatigue, depression and poor stress management.
Zinc helps the body maintain proper Ph balance, supports reproductive function, is essential for wound healing and our sense of taste, increases mental clarity, plays a role in insulin and protein synthesis, helps reduce cholesterol levels and has been utilized is a mineral that often works together with B6 to affect numerous functions in the body. It aids in the formation of insulin and is essential for protein synthesis. It helps the body maintain acid/alkaline (Ph) balance, works to normalize prostate function (even reverses some cases of impotence), helps to normalize all reproductive organs, accelerates the healing of wounds, revives our taste for foods, promotes mental alertness, decreases cholesterol, and aids in the treatment of schizophrenia.
A zinc deficiency may impair brain function and affect mood and behavior as well as a multitude of other systems—hormonal regulation, stress management, immune function and more.
Pyroluria is also called Mauve Factor because of the color change that is visible on the testing paper during the urinalysis for diagnosis. This simple urine test detects the excessive pyrroles in urine. If the findings are 10-20 mcg/dl, a person is considered borderline, and may benefit from supplementation and treatment. Anything over 20 mcg/dl is given a pyroluria diagnosis.
Treatment includes supplementation of B6 and zinc as well as other nutrients that play a role in zinc and B6 absorption. Manganese, for example, supports joint health, and is depleted by high supplementation of zinc. Optimal levels of manganese are also important for neuronal transmission.
Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) assists with the production of serotonin, helping the body to rest and sleep. Magnesium is also essential in calming the nervous system, and because its levels are depleted by large amounts of B6, supplementing with magnesium is vital when supporting pyroluria naturally. The adrenal glands are frequently taxed in people with pyroluria due to chronic stress and nutrient depletion. Supporting the adrenals with vitamin C and pantothenic acid helps manage adrenal function, chronic fatigue and improve energy levels.
How long does it take to get better? It varies from person to person; however, many may begin to feel better in a few days to weeks. Most will recover in 3-6 months of optimal supplementation. Pyroluria requires lifetime supplementation to minimize symptoms and prevent them from returning.