It may be more biochemical than you realize. If you are dealing with depression and anxiety, along with issues such as, pessimism, emotional lability, impulsivity, poor stress tolerance, easily fatigued, then it may be more biochemical than you realize – one possible cause may be pyroluria.
Pyroluria is a chemical imbalance
Pyroluria also known as the “mauve factor” is a chemical imbalance which involves an abnormality in hemoglobin synthesis, the bloods oxygen carrying facility. People with pyroluria produce excessive amounts of these “pyrole compounds” which show up in higher than normal concentrations in the urine. “Pyroles” have an affinity to vitmain B6 (pyridoxine) and zinc, binding and therefore depleting the body of these nutrients. Omega 6’s (arachodonic acid) can also be effected.
Symptoms of Emotional and Behavioural Issues
Some of the displayable signs and symptoms include:
- poor short term memory,
- low stress tolerance,
- anxiety, panic,
- perceptual disorganization,
- explosive anger.
Physical signs may include:
- pale skin,
- inability to tan,
- stretch marks,
- white spots on nails,
- premature greying,
- dry skin,
- light intolerance,
- sound intolerance,
- odour intolerance,
- poor dream recall,
- delayed puberty,
- easily fatigued,
- motion sickness,
- nausea (particularly in the morning).
Pyroluria – the best kept secret!
Discovered in the 50’s by two researchers, in the urine of a large proportion of patients in a psychiatric hospital. It is considered to be a genetic condition which becomes more apparent under stress. Its prevalence is quite high for a condition that for many, is unheard of! The following statistics where obtained by the publication “Discerning the Mauve Factor- Part 1” by McGinnis et al, showing the association of elevated urinary “pyroles” in certain subgroups.
Interestingly it is mainly considered and tested for by integrative doctors and some naturopaths, this may be due to its specific nutritional treatment regime.
Testing for Pyroluria
Urinary pyrole levels are established by chemical analysis through an appropriate lab. The results can be mild, moderate or severe. It is necessary to avoid vitamin and mineral supplementation for at least 2 days prior to being tested.
*Its important to note that positive pyroluria results can be a secondary problem and so in some cases it may be more prudent to test it once other issues are resolved, a professional will be able to assess this.
Trace Minerals, Nutrients & Treatment Options
The effects of pyroluria are far reaching, as the symptoms show, this is due to the impact, notably on vitamin B6 and zinc. Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters; GABA, dopamine and serotonin- not too surprisingly these are our feel good “chemicals” responsible in allowing us to feel pleasure, a sense of wellbeing, calming and generally effect our MOOD!
Zinc is a trace mineral, in a review by Williams and Wilkins, the most recent published work on the role of zinc in the developement and treatment of mood disorders, reveals that not only does zinc deficiency induce depression and anxiety like behaviours, it also improves the efficacy of antidepressant drugs and plays a particular role in treatment resistant patients. Not surprisingly, zinc has a role in the regulation of neurotransmitter systems. Other useful nutrients considered in treatment include, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin C, E, magnanese, pantothenic acid, niacinamide and cysteine.
Treatment on the surface, seems quite simple, but supplementing with the above nutrients is required in the correct forms, vitamin B6 needs to be given for at least part of the dose in its activated form to have the required effect. Doses are based upon the severity of the condition (as per above testing) and also in relation to stress. Stressful conditions can influence the urinary levels of pyroles and this may result in the need to titrate treatment, a necessary skill, guided by the practitioner.
Beyond Pyroluria …
Biochemical causes of emotional and behavioural disorders are far more common than people seem aware, and pyroluria is not the only cause. For those who feel like something just isn’t right it may be worth employing a practitioner who can target treatment by exploring the roles that any one of the following may be playing; inflammation, hypoglycaemia, methylation, genetic issues with folate (MTHFR), adrenal issues, heavy metals, oestrogens, neurotransmitter issues and digestive issues. Measuring certain markers through various testing methods is available and becomes valuable in narrowing down the cause.
- Cope, E.C., Levenson, Cathy, W., (2010). Role of zinc in the development and treatment of mood disorders. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, Volume 13-Issue 6-p685-689
- Kaslow, J. E. Pyroluria, Board Certified Internal Medicine:
- McGinnis, W. (2004). Pyrroluria: Hidden Cause of Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Depression and Anxiety Symptoms. Orlando.
- Walsh, B. Biochemical Individuality and Nutrition. Pfeiffer Treatment Center: Biochemical Individuality and Nutrition
- Walsh, B., Glab, L.B., Hakkenson, M.L., (2004). Reduced Violent Behaviour following Biochemical Therapy. Warrenville
- Stuckey, R., Walsh, W., Lambert, B. (2010). The Effectiveness of Targeted Nutrient Therapy in Treatment of Mental Illness. ACNEM Journal Vol 29
- Statistics – Woody R. McGinnis MD; Tapan Audhya PhD; William J. Walsh, PhD; James A. Jackson PhD; John McLaren-Howard, DSc, FACN; Allen Lewis, MD; Peter H. Lauda, MD; Douglas M. Bibus, PhD; Frances Jurnak, PhD; Roman Lietha, MD; Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD – Discerning the Mauve Factor – Part 1. Alternative Therapies, (2008), Vol 14, No.2.