Pyroluria is a genetic abnormality in hemoglobin synthesis that affects up to 10% of the population (although most people are not aware they have it) and it usually causes mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety and, in severe cases can cause bipolar and schizophrenia if left untreated. Memory problems, insomnia, learning problems, a low stress tolerance and irritability can be additional symptoms as well as a range of other signs and symptoms (refer below). It can be triggered by ongoing stress or a traumatic event, although often there are no known triggers, and the symptoms often beginning during the teenage years or early 20's.

People with this biochemical imbalance have high pyrrole levels in their body which is a neurotoxic substance that affects the nervous system and brain and when levels become elevated – it can trigger mental illness. Pyrroles are a by-product that occurs during the production of red blood cells (RBC's) and, in non-pyroluria patients, they are broken down and eliminated effectively. However, when someone has undiagnosed and untreated Pyroluria, the pyrroles are not broken down and eliminated efficiently enough and they accumulate in the body and bind with certain essential nutrients such as vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium, manganese, biotin and others, leaving the body depleted of these nutrients.

Treating the condition with the correct supplement such as a co-enzymated form of B6 and zinc as well as manganese, biotin, magnesium, niacin, omega 6 fatty acids (specifically arachidonic acid), vitamin C and other nutrients, reduces the toxic pyrrole levels and increases these essential nutrients. Supplementing with a co-enzymated B6 also allows the body to create serotonin which it is capable to do without optimum B6 levels. If OCD, Bipolar or Schizophrenia have already developed, additional supplementation may be required such as NAC for OCD & Bipolar or Vitamin B3 for Schizophrenia for example, which is why an individualized approach is necessary. Treatment with the correct supplementation and the right diet usually results in complete symptom resolution for patients with Pyroluria as long as they keep taking the supplements and consuming an appropriate, healthy diet.

The following signs and symptoms can occur in people that suffer from Pyroluria. If you have at least 8 of these symptoms, consult a Naturopathic Physician or doctor for testing:

Anxiety; Nervousness; severe inner tension


Poor ability to cope with stress

Emotional instability

Mood swings or temper outbursts

Panic attacks

Addictive personality; Substance abuse

Cravings for high carbohydrate foods and high sugar foods


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Episodic anger / temper outbursts / Explosive temper

Histrionic (dramatic)

Argumentative / enjoys an argument



Pessimistic thought patterns

Digestive problems eg abdominal tenderness; constipation, IBS, etc

Glucose intolerance / hypoglycaemia


Little or no dream recall

White spots on finger nails

Frequent infections inc colds; Poor immune function

Poor morning appetite and a tendency to skip breakfast

Frequent unexplained nausea

Much higher capacity & alertness in the evening, compared to mornings

Increased Sensitivity to bright light, loud noises, smells, touch.

Joint pain especially knees / legs; restless leg syndrome; creaking knees

Food allergies or intolerances / environmental allergies / sensitivities

Sensitivities to medications

Learning disabilities (eg Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, etc); Audit processing disorder

Behavioral problems in children and adolescents such as oppositional defiant disorders

Antisocial behavior



Poor short term memory

Skin problems such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and dry skin

Significant growth after the age of 16

Delayed sunset of puberty

Overcrowded teeth and poor tooth enamel; retracted gums / gum disease; sensitive teeth

Cold hands and feet even in summer

Sweet, fruity breath and body odor

Abnormal body fat distribution (tendency to midriff fat)

Stretch marks

Coarse eyebrows

Stunting of growth


Motion sickness

Irregular menstruation


Impotence in males


Drooping eyelid (s)

Pale skin + poor tanning + burn easy in sun

Likes routine (esp as a child)

Emotional withdrawal

Social withdrawal

Gluten intolerance or celiac disease

Eosinophilia (increased levels of Eosinophils – a type of white blood cell)

Anaemia / low iron levels

Elevated copper levels

Elevated heavy metal levels


Emotional lability (emotional overreaction eg laughing or crying uncontrollably or inappropriate emotions eg excess anger or irritability or laughing when something is sad) esp when stressed or tired.

Disordered perception; loss of reality

Hallucinations; delusions


Suicidal tendencies

Autism, Asperger's

Bipolar (manic depression)


Downs syndrome

Epilepsy; Seizures

Tourette's syndrome

Acute intermittent porphyria

Latent Acute Intermittent Porphyria (Note: Porphyrias are a group of rare genetic disorders involved with heme production)

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) – more commonly known as multiple personality disorder

If you suffer from depression, anxiety or another mental health disorder and you have 8 or more of the signs or symptoms shown on the list above, consult a Naturopathic Physician or doctor for testing and advice on the best treatments for Pyroluria. The test is a non-invasive urine test and if the test shows that you have Pyroluria, your practitioner will provide treatment recommendations that will take into consideration your individual requirements.

Please share this article in case it can help other's lives that may unknowingly have this condition and be suffering needlessly when there are simple treatments.