Relapse rates for alcoholism and other addictions are staggering. Likewise, rates of recurrence for common psychiatric disorders – including anxiety, ADHD, and depression – remain high despite aggressive treatments with modern prescription medications. These dire statistics stem from a glaring limitation of contemporary medicine: treatment focuses solely on downstream symptom relief while ignoring upstream root causes of the symptoms in question. One of the more common upstream sources of myriad psychiatric conditions is Pyroluria.
Pyrrole disorder or pyroluria is a genetic condition in which an individual produces an abnormally large number of pyrroles. Affected individuals may have 5 – 10 times more pyrroles than are usually produced. Normally excreted in the urine, a pyrrole is a byproduct of hemoglobin synthesis and has no known function in the body. Hemoglobin, of course, is the molecule that carries oxygen in blood. Pyrroles have an affinity for aldehydes including vitamin B6 and zinc, binding to them in large numbers. They are then excreted in the urine, meaning that the zinc and vitamin B6 nutrients are no longer available for their usual biological roles.
People with pyroluria have been found to have exceptionally low levels of both vitamin B6 and zinc. Deficiencies of these important nutrients have been linked to a wide range of emotional and psychiatric issues including anxiety, irritability, depression, and short-term memory problems. In addition, pyroluria is often seen in children who have been previously diagnosed with conditions characterized by poor responses to stress, behavioral disorders, learning disorders, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. Zinc deficiencies have been associated with physiological disorders as well: poor immune function, poor growth, and delayed puberty.
Symptoms characteristic of pyroluria:
- poor short-term memory
- little or no dream recall
- mood swings
- increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, odors
- frequent infections
- joint pain
- poor appetite, especially in the morning
- nausea, motion sickness
- poor tolerance of dietary protein
- sweet or fruity smelling breath or sweat
- pale complexion
- white spots on fingernails
- premature graying
- delayed sexual development
Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for successful outcomes but unfortunately, the wide range and disparate nature of symptoms contributes to frequent misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment. The gold standard test for diagnosing pyroluria is a urine test that measures kryptopyroles:
Because pyroluria is characterized by profound deficiencies in vitamin B6 and zinc, treatment employs nutritional rather than pharmaceutical interventions. Other nutrients are often used concurrently with vitamin B6 and zinc to enhance treatment response and may include:
- Manganese – is involved in the metabolism of proteins, production of neurotransmitters, and is necessary for joint health; it is often depleted by high doses of zinc
- Magnesium – helps decrease irritability and hypersensitivity to lights/sounds; taking large amounts of vitamin B6 may decrease magnesium levels
- Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) – can enhance the recovery process through the production of serotonin
- Vitamin C and pantothenic acid – is used to support the adrenal glands and improve energy
Individuals with pyroluria typically respond well to targeted nutritional therapies. Indeed, many patients find relief within days and most recover fully within 3-6 months with appropriate therapies. Since it is genetically-based, pyroluria is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment. Those who discontinue treatment generally experience an immediate return of their symptoms.
It is no accicent that our most versatile, and popular, supplement for depressed mood and anxiousness – Serocor – contains many of these all important ingredients: Vitamin B6, zinc, vitamin B3, and magnesium.