Pyroluria is a genetic condition that causes depression, anxiety and social
withdrawal, usually starting in the teenage years and continuing throughout the
Symptoms can include:
- Depression, which can be mild or severe
- Social withdrawal
- Poor dream recall
- Pale skin and hair
- Stretch marks
- Poor immune system
- Tendency to low protein or vegetarian diets (protein is digested
poorly with low zinc and B6)
- Poor appetite in the morning, morning nausea
- Poor sense of taste and smell
- Thin, fragile fingernails, white marks on nails
Take the pyroluria test to find out if you could have pryoluria. Or, take our 13 depression tests to find out if you could have one of 13 common causes of depression.
Pyroluria causes an excess of a substance called pyrroles in the bloodstream.
The pyrroles bind to B6 and zinc, which are then excreted in the urine, causing
severe deficiencies of B6 and zinc. B6 is involved in over 50 different chemical
reactions in the brain and zinc is used by the brain in at least 60
different enzymes, and the combined deficiency of these two nutrients has a
profound effect on mood and mental health.
Stress causes an increase in the level of pyrroles in the bloodstream and
pyrrolurics react badly to severe or prolonged stress.
A doctor or health care provider can order
a urine test to check the level of pyrroles in your urine. However many doctors
are unfamiliar with the condition. See
Finding a doctor who knows about
pyroluria. It's important to stop taking vitamin or mineral supplements
several days before the test as these can affect the results.
Treatment involves high dosages of zinc and B6 to replace the zinc and B6 that
are constantly being lost from the bloodstream. Typical doses are around 75mg -
100 mg of zinc picolinate (the form of zinc that is most easily absorbed) and
around 400 - 500 mg of B6 plus 100 mg of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (the
metabolically active form of B6), sometimes more. Blood tests are used to
monitor zinc levels and adjust the dosage as needed, and B6 is increased until
dream recall is achieved. However it is important not to take more than 2000 mg
of B6 per day, with 100 mg of pryidoxal-5-phospate being equivalent to 500 mg of
B6 (for example, 1000 mg of B6 plus 100 mg of pyridoxal-5-phosphate would be
equivalent to 1500 mg of B6).
Small dosages of manganese, typically around 20 mg per day, are used as taking
high dosages of zinc long term will deplete manganese levels. 1000 mg of evening primrose oil is also used to increase levels of GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid that
tends to be deficient in pyrolurics.
Pyrolurics are usually low in stomach acid as zinc is required for the
production of hydrochloric acid. Betaine HCL (hydrochloric acid) supplements are
often needed for a short period of time. To find out if you need hydrochloric
acid, take one capsule of Betaine HCL at your next large meal. If this gives you
a feeling of warmth in the stomach, it means you don't need hydrochloric acid.
If it doesn't, take 2 capsules with the next large meal, and keep increasing the
dose at each meal until you feel a sensation of warmth (or until you reach 7
capsules). At this point, reduce the dosage by 1 capsule and continue at that
dosage. Take less at smaller meals. As your zinc levels build up you should
regain your ability to produce hydrochloric acid. Reduce your dosage whenever
you start to feel a warm sensation in the stomach.
Pyroluria often leads to adrenal fatigue and you may need treatment to
strengthen your adrenals.
Some supplements should be avoided as they can make pyroluria worse - these
include copper and histidine. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, compete
with GLA for absorption and should be taken with care. It is generally
recommended to take GLA for several months without taking omega-3 supplements,
then to add moderate doses of omega-3 if needed.
Depression-Free, Naturally: 7 Weeks to Eliminating Anxiety, Despair, Fatigue, and Anger from Your Life has a full treatment protocol including dosages.
Many people will see a significant improvement within a few days, though it may take 3-6 months for symptoms to stabilize completely
and treatment must be continued for life. When stress levels are high, pyrrole
levels increase and increased amounts of B6 and zinc may be needed.
Other Causes of Depression
Take our 13 depression tests to find out if you could have any of the other common causes of depression.
Where to Find More Information
Depression-Free, Naturally: 7 Weeks to Eliminating Anxiety, Despair, Fatigue, and Anger from Your Life This is one of our top 3 books on
depression. It covers a wide range of conditions, including a detailed section
on pyroluria. The author has run a highly successful clinic dealing with
pyroluria and other biochemical causes of depression for over 30 years.
The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program to Take Charge of Your Emotions--Today
also covers pyroluria but in less detail.