Could Pyroluria be causing your behavioural or emotional issues?

What Is Pyroluria?

Pyroluria, also known as kryptopyrole or pyrole disorder is a genetic condition that causes an abnormality in bio chemistry, resulting in the over production of a urinary pyrole called HPL (hydroxyhemoppyrrolin-2-one).

Pyrole is a by-product of haemoglobin (oxygen carrying molecule in the body) synthesis and for the majority of the population; the body excretes it via the urine with no issues. However, for approximately 10% of the population who have Pyroluria they produce excessive amounts of HPL, which binds to or inhibits Vitamin B6, Biotin, Omega 6 essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and Zinc from reaching their targets within the body.

Deficiencies of Zinc and B6 are linked to a wide range of emotional and psychiatric problems. Generally speaking zinc and B6 play important roles involved with learning, digestion, mood and behaviour control, eliminating toxins, immunity, dealing with stress and energy production. Nervousness, anxiety, depression, extreme irritability, short -term memory problems and excessive anger have all been linked to pyroluria. Zinc deficiency is also associated with poor immune function, poor growth, delayed sexual development and hormonal imbalances.

Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) often aggravate symptoms such as impulsiveness, aggressiveness, irritability, poor stress tolerance and anxiety in those with Pyroluria.

Signs and Symptoms of Pyroluria

Signs and symptoms vary from person to person and also depend on the age of the person.


  • Issues with sleep

  • Unsettled, irritable and startle easily

  • Colic and reflux

  • Cradle cap

  • Tendency toward nappy rash.

  • Skin that tends to be dry and scaly and may develop into eczema

  • Reacts to food in their mum’s diet.


  • Extreme temper tantrums

  • Extremely volatile, happy one moment and angry the next.

  • Likely to have food intolerances and/or sensitivities and generally only have an interest in strong flavoured foods such as processed meats, salt.

  • Take a long time to fall asleep and are hard to settle.


  • Volatile, angry, and tend to cry easily.

  • Often calm one moment and angry the next for no apparent reason.

  • A great deal of inner tension, and often manifest their symptoms with impulsive unfiltered behaviours.

  • Motion sickness

  • Hyperactivity

  • Nausea in the mornings-aversion to eating or delaying breakfast

Older children

  • May have sensory, learning and processing problems as well as inability to interpret social situations appropriately.

  • Often can't stand the tag on clothes and certain fabrics against their skin. Symptoms are often worse during growth spurts.

  • Needs a lot of down time to calm down after anger outburst.

  • Have a lot of inner tension and impulsive unfiltered behaviours are commonly seen.

  • Anxiety is a major feature.

  • Picky eating

  • Nausea in the mornings-aversion to eating or delaying breakfast

  • Skin problems and sometimes-joint pains, especially in the knees.

  • Frequent stich when running is also another sign.

  • Over crowded teeth and poor tooth enamel.

  • Hyperactivity


  • Depression and/or anxiety

  • Severe mood swings

  • Social withdrawal

  • Extremely abnormal sleep cycles

  • Stretch marks

  • Nausea in the mornings-aversion to eating or delaying breakfast

  • White spots on the nails

  • Keratosis pilaris (pimply type bumps on upper arms and knees)


  • Emotional outbursts

  • Stretch marks

  • General unhappiness and negativity

  • Joint pain

  • Tiredness

  • Depression and anxiety is also common, especially in women as are problems with their menstrual cycle

  • Nausea in the mornings-aversion to eating or delaying breakfast

  • Severe morning sickness when pregnant

  • Insomnia

  • Poor dream recall

  • Cold hands and feet, even in summer

In severe cases criminal behaviour, addictions, bipolar, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, Autism and schizophrenia are seen.

What causes Pyroluria?

Evidence suggests that it is epigenetic. This means there is a genetic susceptibility with the addition of biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off. The food we eat, our heavy metal burden, the health of our digestive system and the environment we live in all play a major role in developing pyroluria. Stress plays a major role in Pyroluria and will also cause an increase in production of HPL (due to higher haemoglobin metabolism), thereby worsening deficiency symptoms. Poor dietary choices and poor digestive health can also cause an increase in pyrole levels.

How do you test for Pyroluria?

The test used to diagnose Pyroluria is via a urine test for Kryptopyrroles.

It is light sensitive; therefore, proper collection, transport and testing precautions are required to ensure proper testing. Other tests including serum copper, plasma zinc and caeruloplasmin are important to determine dosages of nutrients needed for treatment.


The core treatment of Pyroluria is supplementation with Zinc, Magnesium, Biotin, Omega 6 (evening primrose or borage oil) and B6 in its active form-pyridoxyl 5-phosphate. These help to reduce pyrole levels as well as severity of the conditions, signs and symptoms that the person is experiencing. You may be prescribed vitamin C, vitamin E and niacinamide as they are powerful antioxidants and assist in the treatment of pyroluria. Ensuring that a person with pyroluria has a healthy digestive system is very important, so treatment generally targets this area also.

Stress, illness, and injury all exacerbate zinc deficiency and pyroluria; therefore, counselling, lifestyle changes and exercise are all necessary additions to nutrient therapy. In times of severe stress or illness, additional doses of core nutrients may be helpful in lessening development of clinical symptoms.

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