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Pyrrole Disorders

What is a pyrrole disorder?

Pyrrole disorder (also known has pyroluria or pyrroles) is a chemical imbalance that affects up to 10% of the population and impacts our mood and sleep. It involves abnormal metabolism of haemoglobin (the part of our blood cells which carry oxygen).   Whilst we all have pyrroles, really high levels make it harder to deal with  stress and remember stuff. These pesky pyrroles deplete our bodies of the vitamin B6 and zinc needed to manage stress, keep our anger in check, digest our food, sleep, run a healthy immune system and even tan.

Some of us are unlucky enough to born with high pyrroles; others experience high pyrroles when we’re stressed. It can also be caused by digestive imbalances such as leaky gut. Pyrroles affect about 70% of people with depression.


How do pyrroles affect your body?

When haemoglobin breaks down it produces a by-product called HPL (also known as pyrroles). Whilst this is a normal process, in pyrrole disorder the body produces too much HPL. To rid the body of excess HPL, it must bind HPL with much-needed vitamin B6 and zinc – making these nutrients unavailable to do their job.


What are the symptoms of pyrrole disorder?

Because B6 and zinc are needed for many bodily systems, the symptoms of this super-frustrating condition are varied:

  • white spots on fingernails

  • insomnia

  • mood swings

  • volatile mood (flying off the handle easily)

  • anxiety / nervousness

  • depression

  • crappy short-term memory

  • difficulty concentrating

  • sensitivity to sugar

  • food and environmental allergies

  • chronic infections/viruses

  • yeast infections (urgh!)

  • join pain – especially knees

  • digestive issues including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • fatigue

  • headaches – especially migraines


Some slightly more bizarre (but still common) symptoms include:

  • poor dream recall (or bad dreams)

  • difficulty tanning / skin burns easily

  • crooked bottom teeth

  • sensitivity to light

  • hair turning grey early


You don’t need to have all of these issues to have a pyrrole disorder.

Wait…is there any good news?


The good news is that pyrrole disorders can be effectively treated with a targeted combination of activated B6, a specific form of zinc, vitamin E plus some other nutrients. To avoid side effects, these nutrients need to be prescribed and monitored by a trained practitioner and compounded in a compounding pharmacy. Thankfully, most people feel the effects of nutrient therapy incredibly quickly, although severe cases need to be treated more slowly to avoid side-effects.  Some people also have other conditions (such as leaky gut) which will also need to be addressed.  Good diet, stress management techniques and the right type of exercise are also important.

Do I really need extra B6 and zinc?


Yes! Zinc and B6 are like the foundations of a house – without them the house collapses. Zinc and vitamin B6 are the foundations of our bodies' immunity, digestion, brain function, memory, sleep, growth and healing, blood sugar control and weight management. This means untreated pyrrole disorders can make us cranky, forgetful insomniacs – basically someone who’s super fun to live with!


What are the risk factors for pyrrole disorder?


  1. Family history of mental illness: people with a family history of ADHD, depression, suicide, bi-polar disorder, alcoholism and schizophrenia appear to be a higher risk of having a pyrrole disorder.  

  2. Stress: because the body uses B6 and zinc to manage stress, depletion of these nutrients will exacerbate stress – thus continuing the cycle of stress.

  3. Alcohol and drugs: heavy alcohol use, smoking and recreation drugs cause oxidative stress which increases pyrrole levels, exacerbating symptoms. Not sure about this one? Think about how crabby you were after a big night out (or in).

  4. Leaky Gut Syndrome and poor digestive health: in leaky gut the digestive tract becomes too permeable which allows the wrong stuff (undigested food, toxins etc) to transfer from your gut (where the body knows what to do with them) into your bloodstream (where it doesn’t). Leaky Gut Syndrome has a nasty habit of increasing pyrrole levels.     

Is there a test for pyrrole disorders?


Yes. Pyrrole levels can be checked by a simple urine test. A zinc/copper blood test will indicate if there is a zinc deficiency. These tests can be by ordered by your health practitioner done at the same time at most pathologies. 


What do I do next?


Simply give me a call to have a free chat or book an appointment online.

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