Even your doctor may have never heard of Pyroluria. But it’s a common disorder and fortunately, fairly easy to treat.
This disorder was first discovered back in the 1960s, but the medical and mental health communities remain unfamiliar with the condition.
Pyroluria or elevated Kryptopyrroles is characterized by social anxiety, avoidance of crowds, a feeling of inner tension, and bouts of depression. People with pyroluria tend to build their lives around one person, become more of a loner over time, have difficulty handling stress or change and have heightened anxiety symptoms when under more stress.
For a more detailed list of symptoms and a questionnaire to see if you may have pyroluria, check out this link to Trudy Scott’s blog, an expert on the subject.
It’s a genetic condition caused by a faulty synthesis of heme (a component of hemoglobin in the blood), resulting in elevated levels of kryptopyrroles that have no known role in the body. The molecules attach to zinc and Vitamin B6 in the body and are then excreted in the urine, resulting in deficiencies in those two nutrients.
Symptoms typically arise in the late teenage years but stress can bring on symptoms that range in severity. Because it is a genetic condition, if you discover you have pyroluria, share the information with your family members. It is more prevalent in females than males.
How to Treat Pyroluria
Supplementing with zinc and vitamin B6 improves the signs and symptoms of pyroluria.
Trudy Scott, CN recommends zinc monomethionine but finds that some people respond better with other forms of zinc. Nora Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT recommends an ionic form of zinc in liquid solution. An alternate form of B6 is P5P (pyridoxal 5-phosphate) which is the active form of B6 and more absorbable.
Contact me for more specifics on dosages.
Remember that Zinc and Copper must be in balance. If you take a lot of zinc, you will suppress copper and vice versa. We typically get plenty of copper from dietary sources, however.
Often people with this disorder have low levels of iron or ferritin as well. Iron levels should always be checked before supplementing iron as iron overload can be dangerous too.
As well, pyroluria is present in about 46 percent of people with autism spectrum disorders and 71 percent with Down syndrome.
Interestingly, gluten sensitivity and pyroluria often occur together in people with anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, autism, alcoholism and other addictions, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Because zinc and vitamin B6 are important for neurotransmitter productions (and many other things like immune function, cognitive function, digestion and much more), your levels of serotonin and GABA may also be low. These are the calming neurotransmitters.
Taking large amounts of B6 can deplete levels of magnesium. Be sure to add magnesium (and it’s partner, calcium) to your daily regimen.
Pyroluria causes changes in fatty acid metabolism. While it has been ingrained in us to take Fish Oil (Omega-3) supplements, pyroluriacs typically have low Omega-6 levels found in Evening Primrose Oil, Black Currant seed oil and Borage Oil (and other DLA or DGLA sources). As well, Arachadonic Acid (AA) may be low in pyroluria. AA is found in red meat, eggs, butter and liver. A fatty acid test will reveal this condition.
How to Test for Pyroluria
A simple urine test can confirm if you have pyroluria. Several labs offer this test if your doctor doesn’t have a source. (Great Plains Labs and DHA Labs). A result of less than 10 mcg/dL of kryptopyrroles is normal, borderline is 10-20 mcg/dL and full-blown pyroluria is anything over 20 mcg/dL.
You will also want to check your zinc levels with a Zinc Taste test. It’s a simple test where you swish liquid zinc sulfate around in your mouth for about 30 seconds. Based on the principle of “It takes zinc to taste zinc,” if you can taste it (and it doesn’t taste good), you have sufficient zinc. If it tastes like water (or even sweet), you are deficient.
Periodically check your zinc level with the zinc taste test. Taking too much zinc can cause nausea.
A simple way to determine your need for vitamin B6 is whether or not you can recall your dreams upon awakening. You should be able to recall pleasant dreams when you awake. If not, you probably need B6. You can keep taking B6 until you start to remember your dreams. An organic acid test can also reveal your B6 deficiencies.
Excess B6 may result in tingling in your fingers and extremities, called peripheral neuropathy. B6 is a water soluble vitamin so as soon as you stop taking it, it will reverse.
You may find that you have to continue taking zinc and vitamin B6 indefinitely.
Here’s your simple change for the day: Take the Pyroluria questionnaire and confirm it with the lab test.
The Mood Cure, Julia Ross, MA
The Antianxiety Food Solution, Trudy Scott, CN
Primal Body, Primal Mind, Nora Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT
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Joli Tripp and Simple Changes Healthy Results are not medical doctors nor licensed medical professionals. No comment or recommendation should be construed as being a medical diagnosis. If you suffer from a medical or pathological condition, you should consult an appropriate healthcare provider.
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