Pyroluria is a metabolic condition that is very rarely recognized by western medicine. It is considered by many in the functional medicine world "the most common unknown disorder". Pyroluria is a genetically determined chemical imbalance involving an abnormality in hemoglobin synthesis. The symptoms of pyroluria include chronic anxiety, poor stress tolerance, digestive issues, poor immunity, joint pain, acne or eczema, mood swings and poor short term memory. These individuals often have difficulty digesting and absorbing protein and they are easily wrecked by increasing stress. Pyrolurics need a specific diet, lifestyle and supplementation program to get well.
There are several waste products that are produced when the body makes hemoglobin for the red blood cells. These waste products are called kryptopyrroles which are technically called hydroxyhemoppyrrolin-2-one (HPL) which are typically excreted by our body. Individuals with pyroluria are unable to clear the HPL effectively and they build up in the system. The HPL binds strongly to zinc, biotin and vitamin B6 which are critical nutrients for cellular metabolism. Over a period of time, the body becomes very deficient in these critical nutrients and symptoms arise.
The effect of pyroluria can have a mild, moderate, or severe depending on the severity of the imbalance. Most individuals show symptoms of zinc and/or B6 deficiencies, which include poor stress control, nervousness, anxiety, mood swings, severe inner tension, episodic anger (an explosive temper), poor short-term memory and depression. Most pyrolurics exhibit at least two of these problems. These individuals cannot efficiently create serotonin (a neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and depression) since vitamin B6 is an important factor in the last step of its synthesis. Because pyrolurics are stress intolerant, they seem to be especially vulnerable to cumulative stress over many days. It is not unexpected that pyroluric patients are prone to relapses, especially during illness, injury, or emotional stress. Other warning signs of this disorder include an inability to remember dreams, hair loss, light, thin pale skin that is prone to stretch marks, white spots on the fingernails and poor tooth enamel.
Proponents suggest pyroluria is associated with numerous other health conditions. But all are unclear about whether or not pyroluria causes these conditions or the other way around (the chicken or the egg conundrum): ADD/ADHD; Epilepsy; Autism, Aspergers, Down syndrome, learning difficulties; Depression, manic depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia; Allergies; Alcohol/substance abuse; Criminal behaviour/violent offences; Neurosis; Lung cancer; Tourette's syndrome.
Pyroluria is a genetic condition that is typically related to familial alcoholism and/or environmental toxicity. If an individual has a family history of alcoholism they may very well have this genetic mutation. It can be induced with childhood trauma or a chronic infection early in life. The onset usually begins in the late teens and is often triggered by a traumatic life event.
Some researchers in the orthomolecular medicine and orthomolecular psychiatry believe that up to 10 percent of the population has pyroluria. It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of those with autism, 40 percent of alcoholics, 70 percent of schizophrenics, 70 percent of depressed individuals and 30 percent of people with ADHD have pyroluria.