Pyroluria: Overview

Alternative names: Pyrroluria, Pyrolleuria, Pyrrole Disorder, Elevated Kryptopyrrole, B6 Deficiency.

Pyroluria is a familial disorder which occurs with stress, where an above-average amount of a substance consisting of "kryptopyrroles" circulate in the body.  The substance is harmless in itself, but high levels of these pyrroles systemically bind with B6 and zinc, preventing the use of these essential nutrients in the brain and body.

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The root cause is the production of too much "kryptopyrrole" or "hemepyrrole" in the blood.  A pyrrole is a chemical substance that is involved in the formation of heme, which makes blood red.  Pyrroles bind with B6 and then with zinc, thus depleting these nutrients.

Pyroluria may occur along with other imbalances as seen in some subtypes of schizophrenia such as histapenia (low histamine), histadelia (high histamine), high copper levels or cerebral allergies.  It is the primary imbalance for 20% of schizophrenics.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of excess urinary kryptopyrrole first manifest themselves as behavioral abnormalities.  Although children tend to be more easily diagnosed than adults, the symptoms are consistent: poor tolerance of physical and emotional stress, mood swings, depression, noise and other tactile sensitivities.  Later symptoms can range from severe depression to chronic schizophrenia.  Accompanying physical symptoms can include pain, seizures, even complete physical debilitation.

There is a myriad of other symptoms, including severe inner tension, ongoing anxiety, fearfulness, and sometimes episodic anger.

Often sufferers have pale skin that easily burns, eyes that are sensitive to light, white flecks/marks on their nails, and stretch marks on their skin.  They tire easily, are anemic, have poor dream recall, prefer not to eat breakfast, notice upper abdominal pain when stressed, and experience a "stitch" in their side if they run.  They have a tendency to become loners as they age.  Mental symptoms are aggravated when undergoing stress.  In fact, pyroluria flares up when the individual is undergoing prolonged stress, such as during a chronic and debilitating illness.

Symptoms also include sweet, fruity breath and body odor, general loss of appetite, motion sickness, problems with sugar metabolism, allergies.  Mental phenomena include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, occasional loss of contact with reality, amnesia spells, and low stress tolerance.  The affected person has a tendency to have insight (understand they have mental problems).

Diagnosis and Tests

There is a urine lab test available which measures levels of kryptopyrroles.  Any alcoholic, or anyone with symptoms indicating the possibility of this condition should have the lab test done.

Treatment and Prevention

Alcohol use is one way for pyrolurics to shut off their anxiety, feel more sociable, de-stress, and experience a short time when they feel more normal.  Without a knowledge of this chemical imbalance, those who try to quit alcohol use must face coexisting with their symptoms.  If additional antianxiety support is needed, GABA, tryptophan, chromium and inositol should be considered.

Pyroluria is treated by restoring levels of vitamin B6 and zinc so that this double deficiency is corrected.  Supplementation with vitamin B6 until daily dream recall returns (a normal phenomenon) as well as with zinc and manganese needs to be continued daily.  With zinc, manganese and vitamin B6 therapy the pyroluric patient may start to respond in 24 hours and certainly some progress is noted within one week.


However, total recovery may take three to four months.  The biochemical imbalance and symptoms will usually recur within one to two weeks if the nutritional program is stopped. [Pfeiffer, 1974]

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Pyroluria:


Symptoms - Food - Preferences

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Symptoms - General

Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular

Symptoms - Mind - General

Symptoms - Nails

(A few/many) white spots on fingernails

Leukonychia punctata (white spots) are a sign of pyroluria.

Symptoms - Skeletal

Symptoms - Skin - General

Symptoms - Sleep

Conditions that suggest Pyroluria:


Alcohol-related Problems

When anxiety is a factor promoting the consumption of alcohol, Pyroluria should be investigated as a possibility.  As many as one-third to one-half of alcoholics have this genetic chemical imbalance.

Environment / Toxicity

Risk factors for Pyroluria:

Symptoms - Food - Beverages

Low/moderate/high alcohol consumption

A higher than normal anxiety level leads many with pyroluria to drink alcohol.  As many as one-third to one-half of alcoholics have this genetic chemical imbalance.

Symptoms - Mind - Emotional

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Pyroluria can lead to:


Nutritional Deficiency Anemia

Pyrolurics are generally anemic.



Pyroluria is a known biochemical marker for life long anxiety symptoms.  According to one alcoholism treatment center, one-third to one-half of alcoholics treated have this marker.  High levels of pyrroles systematically bind to B6 and zinc, preventing the use of these nutrients in the body and brain.  The result is a myriad of symptoms, including severe inner tension, ongoing anxiety, poor stress control, fearfulness, and sometimes episodic anger.


Zinc Requirement

Pyroluria is caused by an overproduction of kryptopyrrole during hemoglobin synthesis, which chemically combines with vitamin B6 and zinc, resulting in their excretion and a deficiency of both of these essential nutrients.

Vitamin B6 Requirement

A functional pyridoxine deficiency is common in pyroluria (often seen in alcoholics), due not so much to inadequate intake as impaired conversion to its active form, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, and enhanced degradation.

Pyroluria could instead be:



Abnormal production of pyrroles and their appearance in the urine of psychotics was first noticed in 1958 during LSD experimentation.  Approximately 15-30% of "schizophrenics" have pyroluria.  (At least 10% of these also have histamine problems.)

Recommendations for Pyroluria:

Laboratory Testing



Kryptopyrrole is a reacting agent which combines irreversibly with active vitamin B6.  The resulting molecule then chelates zinc, the combined product appearing in the urine.  The whole syndrome is stress-induced so the susceptible patient, when stressed, quickly becomes vitamin B6 and zinc deficient.


Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Pyrolurics commonly respond within a few months to B6, zinc and manganese.  The nutrient dosage usually must be increased when the pyroluric patient is under increased stress.

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