Pyroluria is a genetic condition that causes anxiety, depression and withdrawal most often starting in late-teens and continuing throughout the person’s life. It can be very severe or very mild and very much affected by levels of stress. It’s onset usually occurs with a traumatic incident such as going away to college or to the army, parental divorce or death of a loved one. There may be severe depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, autism, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) or on rare occasions, DID (dissociative identity disorder more commonly known as multiple personalities) in the family tree. All of these are different manifestations of pyroluria.
Pyroluria is a blood disorder. When the body produces hemoglobin, a constituent of red blood cells, there are waste products generated called kryptopyrroles. Kryptopyrroles don’t really serve any useful biological purpose and are normally excreted by most of us. In someone with pyroluria, however, these kryptopyrroles don’t get excreted and will tend to build up–even more so under stress of any kind. It turns out that kryptopyrroles have a tendency to bind very strongly with things like zinc and vitamin B6, making them largely unavailable to the body…which is a very big problem. Zinc, Magnesium and B6 are nutrients critical for the functioning of your entire body and mind–including your digestion, immune system, cognitive functioning and emotions. Often people will go for years suffering the effects of pyroluria regardless of what therapies, supplements they try or how well they eat.
Pyrolurics also have a greater than normal need for omega-6 fatty acids, particularly dietary arachidonic acid (AA–found readily in eggs, butter, red meat and liver) and the essential fatty acid GLA (gamma linolenic acid– found in supplements like black currant seed oil and evening primrose oil).
The really good news is that once diagnosed, pyroluria is very manageable with the use of disciplined supplementation–typically requiring large doses of Zinc, Magnesium and B6 (these need to be prescribed for you as generic brands will not work). Also typically some supplementation with GLA is also needed, along with a diet somewhat higher in sources of arachidonic acid. The “bad news” is that some ongoing supplementation is needed indefinitely in order for symptoms to remain manageable long term…a small price to pay for real relief. Without appropriate supplementation symptoms tend to return again in a week or two.
With appropriate supplementation and stress management mild cases of pyroluria tend to respond quickly. More severe cases tend to experience gradual and incremental improvement over a period of several months.
Symptoms of Pyroluria
Individuals with Pyroluria exhibit a wide range of physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms; some common characteristics of Pyrolurics are described here:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety (including panic attacks)
- Poor dream recall
- Low tolerance for stress
- Antisocial behavior
- Behavioral problems (especially in children and teenagers) such as oppositional/defiant disorder
- Emotional instability, explosive temper
- Frequent joint pain
- Frequent infections
- Poor appetite, especially in the morning
- Low tolerance for protein – tend to favor vegetarian diets
- Pale complexion, inability to tan
- White flecks on the fingernails
- Nausea, motion sickness
- Crowded teeth and poor quality of the tooth enamel
- Retracted gums
- Sweet or fruity-smelling breath and sweat
- Late onset of puberty