Pyroluria (or mauve factor) is a metabolic disorder in which the liver overproduces molecules called ‘pyrroles’. These pyrrole molecules are a normal by-product of haemoglobin synthesis, however in this case the over-production can lead to a deficiency of key nutrients including zinc, B6, magnesium and omega 6 essential fatty acids.
These nutrient deficiencies may manifest in a variety of symptoms, however those most closely correlated with pyroluria include:
- mood and behavioural symptoms (e.g. anxiety and stress intolerance, depression, social withdrawal, explosive temper and mood swings)
- abdominal pain and/or morning nausea
- impotence in males
- irregular periods and/or delayed puberty
- allergies and sensitivity to light, sound and odour
- attention deficit/hyperactivity
- poor dream recall
- stretch marks in the skin and/or white spots on fingernails
- vitamin B6-responsive anaemia
- hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
A number of these symptoms being present may indicate the possibility of pyrrole disorder, as well as blood work showing either low zinc, high copper, low normal alkaline phosphatase (a zinc dependent enzyme), or low normal liver enzymes (AST, ALT, GGT) which are B6 dependent. Definitive testing is performed via a urine sample which measure the volume of pyrrole molecules being excreted.
Treatment is initially a supplemental nutrient protocol to address deficiencies, and response can be quite rapid. However long term treatment must address underlying health issues which exacerbate nutrient depletion and perpetuate symptoms. These may include:
- Gut inflammation and hyper-permeability (leaky gut)
- Food sensitivities
- Psychological stress
- Chronic infection
- Environmental toxicity (eg BPA or heavy metals)
Clinically I have seen many patients respond to treatment when presenting with significant anxiety / ADD / ADHD / OCD behavior. Often these patients are children who have been labelled with a behavioral disorder and for whom pharmacological therapy has been suggested, when in fact the underlying cause was simply a nutrient deficiency.
If you or a loved one ticks multiple boxes on the symptom list above I urge you to have this clinically assessed and the appropriate testing performed to see if the issue at hand is indeed pyrrole disorder.