Pyrrole – Pie What?! Learn the latest information on this disorder and treatment options…

Pyrrole disorder or pyroluria is a condition from an overproduction of pyrroles, the by product of haemoglobin (Hb) synthesis. Hb is a protein in our blood cells that carries oxygen from our lungs to the body’s tissues and then carries carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs. The disorder directly affects the synthesis and metabolism of Hb. However, when there is a build of any bi product in the human body it can affect not only its direct mechanism but also other functions within the body.


Who does it affect?

Elevated levels can be detected in our urine. Most individuals will have less than 10mcg/dl, with the upper level limit being between 8-20mcg/dl and levels above 20mcg/dl considered to be positive for Pyrrole disorder.

Elevated levels have been found in individuals with cognitive and neurobehavioral disorders such as; ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, autism and alcoholism. Although elevated levels have been found in people with mental illness’, the condition is not limited to just these individuals. People with elevated histamine levels have also been shown to have an elevated level of pyrrole.

Now unfortunately there is evidence showing that genetics can play a big role in the disorder. If one parent were to have the disorder, there is a 50% chance it could be passed down to their child. If both parents were to have it, that chance can increase to 75%


Signs and symptoms.

Pyrrole will bind itself to key neurological cofactor nutrients such as vitamin B6 and zinc, making them unavailable for use. Vitamin B6 and zinc are important nutrients involved in digestion and immune function along with brain cognition and emotion. When the body is showing signs of depletion, individuals may display symptoms of poor dream recall, mid morning nausea, poor appetite, white spots on nails, pale complexion, digestive issues, anxiety, mood swings and being sensitive to light and noise. The signs and symptoms of the disorder correlate directly with B6 and zinc deficiency.

Other nutrients biotin, magnesium, and manganese can be affected also, due to their association and cofactor abilities of B6 and zinc.


How does it affect important body functions?

Normal neuron activity is dependent on haemoglobin carrying oxygen to the brain, with depressed levels of haemoglobin associated with pyrrole disorder, this directly affects proper brain cell energy and function.

As mentioned earlier vitamin B6 and zinc are also affected with increase pyrrole levels. Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme involved in the synthesis of key brain nutrients GABA, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. All nutrients directly affect our mood, sleep, stress levels and neurotransmission activity. Vitamin B6 also protects the neurons from oxidative stress by increasing their energy production and lowering damage done by excessive stimulation. Excessive of anything can cause damage, and is no different in the human brain. Imbalance of neurotransmitters can lead to depression and anxiety disorders.

Zinc plays another important role, with it being involved in cell regulation and metabolism within the brain. There is growing evidence showing lowered zinc serum levels being associated with major depressive disorders. Zinc and copper will compete with each other in the human body, and evidence is now showing elevated anxiety symptoms associated with increased copper levels, a direct link to how important adequate zinc levels are for normal brain function.

Treatment considerations.

Correct diagnosis and a holistic nutritional approach is the key to successful management of the condition. Increasing nutrients B6 and zinc that are suppressed from elevated levels, have been shown to actually help suppress excessive pyrrole levels. Along with supplementation, foods to increase vitamin B6 levels are fish, poultry, liver and potatoes. Look for red meat, oysters, nuts, legumes and eggs to increase your overall zinc intake

As with all things nutrition wise, it is always important to consider and improve gut health. Elevated pyrrole levels have been linked to digestive disorders, causing an imbalance to gut microbiota and increase oxidative stress which negatively affects intestinal permeability. A  multi strain probiotic can restore gut flora and zinc will help facilitate appetite and nutrient absorption.

As the body works as a synergistic unit, it is always important to consider other nutrient cofactors;


Increased magnesium intake is important as it is involved in proper brain and muscular function. Additional zinc intake will also affect magnesium absorption, making it important to either supplement or increase overall dietary intake of the nutrient to counterbalance the affected absorption rates. Magnesium can be found green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and dark chocolate


Another important nutrient involved in the conversion of neurotransmitters glutamine and GABA. Excess zinc intake can also suppress manganese levels. Look for and include foods such as seafood especially mussels, nuts and seeds, beans, spinach and black tea

Essential Fatty Acids

Are important to ensure normal brain and behavioural function. Again, elevated levels of pyrrole can deplete the essential fatty acid omega 6. Vitamin B6 and zinc are also cofactor nutrients important in the conversion of essential fatty acids in the body. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines should be included, along with almonds, walnuts, flax seeds and dark green left vegetables.


The nutrient is involved in the metabolism of essential fatty acids and amino acids, with deficiency contributing to depression. Biotin is found in foods such as nuts, bananas, cauliflower and legumes  


Is a powerful antioxidant and can help in reducing oxidative stress caused by elevated levels of pyrrole. Include sulfur rich vegetables such as onion, garlic and parsley.

Vitamin C

Accumulates in the central nervous system and is required for the conversion of dopamine into norepinephrine (two important transmitters that control our mood and our ability to handle stress) and preventing oxidative stress to lipids and proteins in the brain. Oranges, chillies, capsicum, kale, broccoli and papaya all contain excellent levels of vitamin C

Reference: Medicine FX Magazine June 2017