Pyroluria/Pyrrole Disorders/Kryptopyrrole Syndrome

Pyroluria or any of the other names for this condition, simply means people who do not genetically metabolise certain nutrients, mainly zinc, B6, magnesium and manganese very well. This is then linked to mental health issues, allergies and more besides.

Here, first, is some background information on it:

What are krytopyrroles?

These are related to a condition called ‘Pyroluria.’ Dr Pfeiffer, during research on schizophrenia in the 50s, found that many people with mental health problems are abnormally deficient in vitamin B6 and zinc which cannot be corrected simply by eating more in food. These people tend to produce more of a body chemical called ‘pyrroles’ which bind those particular nutrients so there is less available for the body to use.

Pyroluria can be tested using a urine test where if there are too many kryptopyrroles present, the urine will turn mauve – see that test here.

 What if I have too many?

Deficiencies of B6 and zinc can have serious repercussions. Together they are essential for the production of neurotransmitters – our chemical messengers. This includes serotonin (known as the happy hormone), cortisol (anti-stress hormone and anti-inflammatory), and melatonin (which supports sleep). Poor levels of B6 and Zinc can also reduce our ability to produce GABA (a hormone that calms us) and acetylcholine (a multi-functional hormone particularly related to cognition, memory and brain function).

It may also disrupt our ability to properly convert the oils we digest, leading to liver and gallbladder issues, and problems with weight management. Clearly, the problem can be worsened (or triggered) by a poor diet and not getting sufficient essential nutrients in the first place.

A deficiency in magnesium is also a concern as magnesium plays a role in muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and blood pressure regulation.

The symptoms often start in teenage years after a particularly stressful event such as exams, a virus or bad relationship. Sufferers can become socially withdrawn and a bit reclusive. Often, people have poor immune systems and suffer frequent ear infections as a child and colds as adults. Other symptoms include fatigue, nervous exhaustion, insomnia, poor memory, seizures, poor learning ability, confusion, depression and mood swings, period problems, problems with undescended testicles, have cold feet and hands, a poor tolerance of alcohol and can wake feeling nauseous and abdominal pain.

Often they can’t remember dreams very well, have pale skin, white spots on nails and skin problems – in fact, any symptom related to zinc or B6 deficiency. Not all the symptoms will be present, but there may be a few.

In severe cases, sufferers are often diagnosed as schizophrenics, paranoid schizophrenics or with personality disorders. They lose their sense of reality, can’t sleep and suffer severe depression.

 Some of this sounds a bit like me – what do I do?

The correct levels of B6, Mg and Zinc, with absorptive support, can most often rapidly solve the high pyrroles problem.


If you can tick more than 6 of these, it is worth getting tested:

  • Stress, mood swings, paranoia, mental confusion or depression
  • Symptoms started in teenage or after a stressful event
  • Reclusive or socially withdrawn
  • Weak immune system – frequent ear infections as a child, frequent infections or colds
  • Fatigue
  • Nervous exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory
  • Hyperactivity
  • Poor learning ability
  • Inability to focus clearly sometimes
  • Irregular periods
  • Bad breath
  • Strange body odour
  • Poor tolerance of alcohol, drugs or meds
  • Wake feeling nauseous
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Abdominal pains
  • Can’t recall dreams
  • Pale skin, white marks on nails
  • Poor hair growth or loss of hair or hair colour
  • Skin problems (acne/eczema etc)

Pyroluria Test


There is an excellent article written in NeuroPsychotherapist here so do read that. It’s written for therapists really but is not too technical.

Pyroluria Treatment

If you find your pyrrole levels are high, it basically means you need extra B6 P5P (B6 in the active form) and zinc, plus probably magnesium. The levels do vary quite a bit and you have to find the right dosage so it is best to work with someone preferably. Here are some good resources to start you off:



Patrick Holford’s books on mental health are quite good for ideas and Julia Ross’s Mood Cure is one of my all-time favourites in this field.

Active B6: you’ll probably need more than one, but build up according to any guidelines given to you. Here is an example. It must be the active P5P form, although some people do better with some of each form for some reason.

Zinc: 1 a day of eg. this zinc is probably about right but you could need more. Bear in mind that zinc over about 30mg a day for more than 3 months can depress copper so, if on it for longer, swap to a zinc and copper combined product. It’s also best to increase zinc slowly as you can cause things like nausea, dizziness and headaches sometimes if you go too quickly. 

Zinc also depletes magnesium, ironically, so make sure you take a good magnesium product too. I would prefer magnesium with its co-factors really and these as part of a good multi, then add extras as needed. Take a look at the magnesium page – there are several forms that could help. 

Manganese levels can be affected by changes in how much zinc you ingest too so make sure you have enough of that. Vitamin B3, Vitamin C and B5, Pantothenic Acid may also help. Don’t forget too to make sure you are absorbing nutrients well – check the low stomach acid factsheet and leaky gut, for a start. 

You could use this special formula as a base and work up from 1 to 6 per day, depending on how much you need to feel better. Add extra magnesium on top (this is glycinate form which is super-calming usually) and you may need extra P5P but see how you go.

Be led by your health professional but hope that starts you off!


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