All Articles, Naturopathic Health

Pyrrole Disorder

Do you know someone who struggles to cope under pressure or stress? They may have quick mood swings, which appear to be out of their control. Or maybe they have extremely high anxiety levels, and find it difficult coping with stress of any kind.

If this describes either yourself or your loved ones, then there may be an underlying condition present known as Pyroluria, or pyrrole disorder.

What is Pyrrole Disorder?

Pyrrole disorder is a condition that is highly symptomatic under stressful situations. The physical manifestation is the overpopulation of hydroxyhaempyrollin (HPL) in the body. The excess HPL bind’s Zinc and Vitamin B6 together, which prevents it from being absorbed in the body, and instead are excreted in urine and hair.

HPL is a biomarker for oxidative stress, and is a neurotoxin.  Stress of any kind will increase production of pyrrole/HPL, which in turn decreases Zinc and B6.

Signs and Symptoms

Pyrrole Disorder has many different signs and symptoms, which can vary from person to person. These can depend on the age of onset, severity, and other individual factors.  Its most common feature is very poor tolerance of stress, and is usually exacerbated by stress. Some other features may include any of the following:

  • Irritability, moodiness, anger outbursts
  • Severe temper, short fuse sometimes violent
  • Slow to calm down but remorseful later
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Above mood disorderes triggered by stressful events and growth spurts
  • Inability to tolerate stress
  • Insomnia/ a night person
  • Poor dream recall or recall of vivid, bizarre dreams only
  • Poor morning appetite, nausea, tendency to skip breakfast
  • Poor and deteriorating short term memory
  • Sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises, startle easily
  • Sensitivities to tags on clothes and textures of clothes e.g. wool
  • Sensitivities to textures of food and smell
  • Kids tend to be picky eaters
  • Adults tend to prefer spicy and flavoursome foods
  • Prominent morning sickness in pregnancy
  • Reading disorder/dyslexia/poor school performance if onset early
  • Behavioural disorders in children
  • Delayed puberty with growing pains if onset in childhood
  • Fascination with disaster
  • Unstable blood sugar / carbohydrate cravings
  • Sharp Stabbing Abdominal pain/stitches
  • Tendency for motion sickness

Physical Features

There may also be some common physical features associated with Pyrroles, including some of the following:

  • Premature greying or balding men
  • Dry Skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Acne
  • Short stature if onset in childhood
  • Fair hair/skin
  • Inability to tan/easy sunburn/ look paler than siblings
  • China doll appearance
  • Poor wound healing
  • Recurrent infections
  • White spots in fingernails, brittle weak nails
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Coarse eyebrows
  • Tremor
  • Abdominal obesity later in life, often start slender

Zinc is essential for 100’s of processes in the body and is particularly important for healing, immune function, digestion, neurotransmitter activation, physical growth, memory, insulin sensitivity and control of blood sugars, as well as DNA replication and over 200 different enzyme reactions in the body.

Zinc and B6 are essential for production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin (Our happy hormone), melatonin (Our sleep hormone), GABA (our relaxation hormone – our natural valium), and acetylcholine, which is important for memory.

They are also involved in production of our steroid hormones such as cortisol, and the conversion of oils in the body, the oils EPA/DHA and GLA are all found to be low in those with Pyrrole Disorder.  These oils are damaged by oxidative stress.

Prevalence

The main biochemical feature is of severe Zinc and B6 deficiency.  It’s no wonder that in todays society Pyrrole Disorder is on the rise and becoming more and more common, as the Zinc levels in Australian soils have become quite depleted, therefore it is not as readily available from our everyday crops and fresh produce. We are not getting anywhere near as much Zinc in our diets these days as we did many years ago.

Some foods containing high levels of Zinc include oysters, spinach, beans, mushrooms, Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds. However, even if you consume a lot of these foods, you still may not be getting enough Zinc to cope with your Pyrrole levels from food alone.

Aetiology

Although the causes are not completely understood, there is a definitive genetic component.  Family history can be very revealing.  Age of onset can be very early, and many children with behavioural disorders/ADHD display a positive result when tested for Pyrrole Disorder.

Alternatively, the disorder may not manifest until later in life, this may be due to the amount of stressors a person has suffered.  There is also evidence that leaky gut may be a contributing factor and it is known that stress worsens leaky gut, which just compounds things.

Comorbidity

Pyrrole Disorder is common to be associated with other mental health and behavioural conditions including depression, anxiety behavioural disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, autism, alcoholism, downs syndrome, anorexia, and obesity.

Testing

Pyrrole Disorder is detected in a urine sample that is collected in a specific format at a pathology collection centre. The test is very light sensitive and is required to be frozen instantly and then carefully transported to the lab for further investigation.

The lab will test the urine, looking for the levels of HPL being excreted from the body. The higher the levels of HPL, the more severe the Pyrrole diagnosis will be.

Although our levels of HPL can vary according the amount of stress we are currently experiencing, it will always remain relatively consistent if left untreated.

For the most accurate Pyrrole reading, it is advised to stop all supplementation of Zinc and B6 supplements 3 days prior to testing your urine.

 Treatment

Pyrrole Disorder is essentially treated with nutritional supplements, and the doses may vary depending on current life events.

It’s important to seek professional advise when determining the diagnosis and treatment of Pyrrole disorder, as Zinc supplements can be quite toxic if taken unnecessarily for long periods of time, and subsequently, the dose of a supplement over the counter may not have the adequate levels required to treat a Pyrrole condition effectively.

Response to treatment can be rapid and dramatic.  Some patients report feeling better within days, most notice a benefit by 2 weeks, with significant improvements within 2 months.  Symptoms will usually reoccur if treatment is stopped. Doses may be able to be reduced particularly when life stressors are low, but may need to be increased if the patient is under any significant stress.

A Plan For The Future – Nurturing the “Sensitives”

At Nurtured Naturally, Melanie believe’s in looking at the whole picture when it comes to any kind of physical manifestation in the body. She believes that there are underlying emotional aspects to every condition, and addressing these is just as important as the presenting signs and symptoms.

The children that are coming through these days are much more sensitive and some are finding it more difficult to cope with the societal norms and expectations that are placed on them, at any age throughout their life. Along side working with gut and nutrient protocol’s, Melanie also looks into strategic behavioural support strategies as well as the overall wellbeing of the individual person.

These children/adults are often misunderstood by society and thus sometimes may be labelled and categorised as “different”. In reality, all they really need is someone to understand them and help give them a chance to translate their unique and individual expression of how they experience life.

Seeking Professional Advise

If you require any further information, or would like to have your family tested for Pyrrole Disorder, please contact me to make an appointment or book online today.