Omega 3 Use in Pyrrole Disorder Increases Inflammation

By Samantha Gilbert, FNC, CHNP, CNC     Last updated on October 22nd, 2021

The benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are well known: they protect from heart attack and stroke, regulate cholesterol triglyceride levels, and are healing to the brain and gut.

But omega 3 fatty acids are not for everyone, and they are actually inflammatory to individuals with Pyrrole disorder, also known as Pyroluria, Kryptopyrroles, and Mauve factor. This is a biochemical abnormality which occurs when the body creates and excretes too many pyrrole molecules in urine.

To learn more about Pyrrole disorder, listen to my podcast episode with Dr. Judith Bowman, co-founder of Mensah Medical.

What is Pyroluria (Pyrrole Disorder)?

Pyrrole disorder is a mood and stress disorder. Contrary to popular belief, it can be seen in anyone of any age. Symptoms are typically most evident in toddlers and teenagers who have not yet learned how to cope with the resulting behaviors this disorder creates. I believe this is where the term “terrible twos” comes from. Pyrrole disorder is the underlying cause in a variety of symptoms and disorders from stretch marks, light sensitivity, and nausea, to Multiple Sclerosis and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder.

Pyrrole disorder is often genetically inherited, and I almost always see it when there is a history of family alcoholism and addiction coupled with anger and rage.

Pyrrole disorder is much more common than most people realize and sadly, the medical community does not recognize it. This means your doctor probably won’t know what it is or how to test for it.

Pyroluria Testing

Testing is simple using a kryptopyrrole test designed to find elevated kryptopyrroles in urine, determining the level of pyrroles the body excretes. The kryptopyrrole test and pyroluria have also been historically referred to as KPU, Kryptopyroluria, KP, HPL, Mauve factor, and Hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2-one (HPL) in medical literature.

What do Pyrrole Molecules Do?

Pyrrole molecules are constantly excreted in our urine and for the typical person, this is not a big deal. However, for someone with Pyrrole disorder, nutrient deficiencies occur because these molecules have an affinity for zinc and vitamin B6. They latch onto and excrete these molecules in urine before the body is able to absorb them.

Zinc and vitamin B6 are critical for a healthy immune system, maintaining intellectual function, mood, and memory to name a few.

Another feature of Pyrrole disorder is a deficiency in arachidonic acid (AA), a polyunsaturated omega 6 essential fatty acid (EFA). Unsaturated fatty acids are especially important because they provide fluidity to cell membranes and assist in communication between brain cells. Omega 6 EFAs are essential for normal growth and development, regulating metabolism, maintaining the reproductive system, skin and hair growth, as well as maintaining bone health.

Omega 6’s have gotten a bad reputation due to their abundance in junk foods and industrialized vegetable seed oils, which I don’t recommend. However, it is unfortunate that a one-sided view of them has led many people to think all of them are bad, which has resulted in extreme avoidance and, even worse, increased deficiencies.

Pyroluria Symptoms

Mental Health and Pyrrole Disorder

Common mood instability symptoms of Pyrrole disorder include:

  • High irritability and temper
  • Poor stress control
  • Severe mood swings
  • Tendency to withdraw socially
  • Pessimism
  • Explosive anger and rage
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Disorders associated with Pyrrole disorder include:

  • Bipolar disorder (especially rapid cycling)
  • Autism
  • Schizophrenia
  • OCD
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Asperger syndrome
  • Alcoholism
  • Epilepsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Porphyria

Physical Health and Pyrrole Disorder

Physical signs of Pyrrole disorder include:

  • White spots on fingernails
  • A sweet or “fruity” breath
  • Poor wound healing
  • Frequent infections
  • Poor short term memory
  • Sensitivity to light, smell, sound, and textures
  • Lack of dream recall
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of hair on head, eyebrows and eyelashes
  • Blood sugar dysregulation
  • Lack of regular menstrual cycles
  • Abnormal body fat distribution
  • Acne
  • Loss of appetite (especially in the morning)
  • Low libido
  • Leaky gut
  • Malabsorption
  • Insomnia
  • Morning nausea
  • Pale and thin skin
  • More energy in the evening (after the sun goes down)
  • Poor tanning
  • Skin rashes
  • Joint pain
  • Spleen pain (side stitches when running)
  • Migraines
  • Upper jaw overcrowding
  • Sensitivity to supplements
  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Delayed puberty
  • Criminal behavior

Diet and nutrients are key for the pyroluric individual and must contain ample zinc and B6-rich proteins for calming and to balance blood sugar, plus high-quality omega 6 fatty acids. Leaky gut and malabsorption are commonly seen in those with Pyrrole disorder and must also be addressed for healing to occur.

I encourage you to not buy into the hype that all omega 6 fatty acids are bad. Industrialized vegetable oils such as canola, soy, and corn are not good choices, but this doesn’t make all omega 6 oils evil. Quite a few of them are very healing for those with Pyrrole disorder. My Pyroluria Cookbook contains the complete list along with more in-depth research and delicious recipes.

If you know of someone who struggles with any of these symptoms and/or disorders, please share this post. If you struggle with Pyrrole disorder, please share your experience in the comments below. It is through sharing your story that we create community, eliminate guilt and shame, and bring about healing.

References

Horrobin DF, Huang YS. Schizophrenia: the role of abnormal essential fatty acid and prostaglandin metabolism. Med Hypotheses. 1983 Mar;10(3):329-36.
Walsh, William J. Fatty Acid Profiles of Schizophrenic Phenotypes. 91st AOCS Annual Meeting and Expo San Diego, California April 25-28, 2000.
Walsh, William J. Discerning the Mauve Factor Part I. Alternative Therapies, Mar/Apr 2008, Vol. 14, No. 2.
Walsh, William J. Discerning the Mauve Factor Part II. Alternative Therapies, May/Jun 2008, Vol. 14, No. 3.
Pfeiffer, Carl C. (1975). Mental And Elemental Nutrients. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing.
Pfeiffer Carl C., Iliev V. Pyroluria, Urinary Mauve Factor, Cases Double deficiency of B6 and zinc in schizophrenics. Fed Am Soc Exp Biol. 1973, 32:276.
Pfeiffer Carl C., Sholer A, Jenny EH, et al. Treatment of Pyroluric Schizophrenia (Malvaria) With Large Doses of Pyridoxine and a Dietary Supplement of Zinc. J Appl Nut. 1974, 26:21-28.

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56 thoughts on “Omega 3 Use in Pyrrole Disorder Increases Inflammation”

  1. Hi. I have Pyroluria. Have had angsity all my life but at one point it was so bad I went both a Psykiatrisk and a functional doctor. After some sessions with the psychiatrist he thought it was biological at the same time I tested positive for pyroluria.
    Sink and B6 made ha HUGE difference. My angsiety reduced fast. ❤️.

    Du to the advice not to eat omega 3 I ended up with 18:1 in omega 6 /ratio.
    I started with omega 3 and met muscle pain, my migraines my allergies almost disappeared. So for me omega 3 was a life changer. That, sink and B6 (P5p)

  2. what is the recommended dose for primerose oil? and does it depend on body weight? I had a pretty minor pyrrole result also. thank you!

    1. Hi Jonathan – unfortunately, we are unable to provide specific guidance without a client/practitioner relationship. If you are interested in working with Sami, click here. ~Kim

  3. a few more questions.
    I have pyrrole disorder “bipolar”. What does it mean? only a mild form of pyrrole disorder? stress-induced?

    How much omega-6 GLA should someone with pyrrole disorder take? I know the best form is evening primrose or borage oil. The only question is how much… 🙂

    1. Hi Dan – what is labeled as bipolar disorder is often pyrrole disorder and is determined by measuring pyrrole levels in urine. This is how we determine severity. I’m not able to provide specific dosing guidance outside of the client/practitioner relationship but if you are seeking guidance, click here for more information. Also, here’s the link to my podcast episode about pyrrole disorder.

  4. Hello,
    great articel.
    What test can I do to check if I have low Omega 6?

    I have Pyrroluria and I am also a undermethylator. I know it since last sunday and I started with B6, P5P and Methyl-B12.
    Methyl-B12 probably because my SAM, SAH and SAM:SAH are normal. Only my histamine is very high. So only Methyl-B12 is possible as a methyl donator.

    Soon I will also start with some other supps, who are recommended to me.

    Only Omega-6 I dont know. Also my practitioner did not made a test. I have read it here for the first time. So my idea is to check it for myself.

    Is it a standard “fatty acid profile” which you can do in almost every laboratory and also at home with a self test kit?

    Thanks a lot

  5. How does one correct copper and ceruloplasmin deficiency as a result of treating Pyrroluria with high dose zinc? Nutrient Power doesn’t address this situation.

    1. Linda Bennardo

      It is my understanding that zinc and copper should be the same, as close as possible to 1:1 ratio, and this was confirmed to me by a Walsh-trained natruropathic doctor last month.

  6. LakshmiNarayanan P S

    I have ordered metaboloc pqnel plus consultation from DHA lab and i consulted Dr.Mensah 2 weeks back. They prescribed the supplements(including cal/mag, B6, P5P, Zinc, Methionine, Sam-e, Vutamin c, Eve primrose oil) as i was diagnosed with High pyroluria(30.8) and High Histamine(79).
    While waiting for the ordered Supplements to reach me, i thought to try the below supplemets at a low dose from yesterday.
    B6(Now foods) – 50mg after breakfast
    Zinc Gluconate – 30mg after dinner.
    But i am feeling tired and i had headache. Important thing is i am having stomach pain for the past five days after starting the B6 and Zinc gluconate.
    Can you please advice whether the above are expected? And will it reduce in coming days?
    And one main thing, what is the option for me if plain B6 is intolerable to me?

  7. I had PD and was advised to go off fish oil, then became deficient in Omega 3’s. Twice. So for now, I’m staying on it. How do you avoid Omega 3’s and avoid a deficiency?

  8. Rosie Simmons-Hogan

    Hi Samantha,

    I was recently diagnosed with Pyrrole Disorder and undermethylation by Dr. Mensah. I have learned that I should try to avoid Omega 3, but also folate. I am trying to research what my new diet should look like, but information on these conditions is limited. It also seems that the information I find regarding the diet of one disorder suggests eating foods that the other disorder warns against. Does that make sense? For example, asparagus is suggested as a zinc-rich food, but it is also rich in folate which I am supposed to avoid. In my attempts to research a new diet, I am continually met with catch-22s such as this and I am unsure of how to proceed. Thoughts? Suggestions? Help please.

  9. hi Sami, thank you for the article! when i take fish oil it makes me feel wonderful and stops depression and anxiety beautifully…but it also make me sick, my gums swell up and i get colds and flus. i am beginning to think i have PD (just sent out for a test) and that my low zinc levels and low immunity react to the fish oil….whatcha think?

  10. hi Karen, thank you for the article! when i take fish oil it makes me feel wonderful and stops depression and anxiety beautifully…but it also makes me sick, my gums swell up and i get colds and flus. i am beginning to think i have PD (just sent out for a test) and that my low zinc levels and low immunity react to the fish oil….whatcha think?

  11. A doctor who trained with Walsh told me that the test for pyrroles in urine detects only pyrrole molecules that have bonded with zinc molecules. So if you are deficient in zinc (and that’s VERY common in people with pyrrole disorder), you can have a “normal” pyrrole level on your urine test even though you definitely have pyrrole disorder based on symptoms/traits and history.

    I think what this doctor does is put the person on zinc supplementation, then repeat the urine test for pyrroles after 4 to 6 months, and that’s when the “true” high pyrrole level in the urine shows on the test.

  12. Hi, after reading your site, I believe that I may be both an undermethylator and have a pyrrole disorder. I have mostly undermethylator symptoms with a mix of a little bit of overmethylator symptoms as well, but I have almost 100% of the ones listed for pyrrole. I always thought it was weird that I never really felt better after taking fish oil or other plant based omega 3’s, and I almost never consume trans-fats, so I thought maybe the issue was too much acetylcholine, which the omega-3’s were worsening.

    I have always had a very hard time building muscle and have to eat an abnormally large amount of calories and protein to gain even a little bit of muscle. Much more difficult than for most people. Following standard macronutrient recommendations for my size and boy weight and activity level have never really helped or felt sufficient. I’m lean everywhere except my belly but cortisol and thyroid blood tests always come back normal.

    I’m very loving and caring but I also have an explosive temper that ONLY comes up when some financial, social or physical/medical threat to myself or a loved one arrises that I know I can’t fix or prevent right now due to low income or low authority level. Usually this has to do with other people in my life who are “ignorant” doing irresponsible stuff that could harm us all and me not being able to do anything to stop them or get them to change. Even opiates and medical marijuana (which were only temporarily helpful for Chronic Pain) only reduced how often I got angry and blew up, didn’t prevent it completely. When this would occur I could never control my words and would often curse even in places where it was socially unacceptable, but I couldn’t stop it, it ran it’s course and when the fight or flight response ended, the anger/cursing would end.

    I have a very high libido but also have an equally high craving for deep emotional intimacy as well. In my younger years, Psychedelics were always my top drug choice because something about the “mystical” feeling they gave satisfied my high-philosophical and high-intellectual nature. Though this was never fulfilled, I always wanted to have (married) sex while both of us were on a solid dose of some psychedelic so that we could experience a “spiritual cosmic bonding experience” that is far beyond normal human consciousness. I’ve always had a high level of vigilanteism and hatred of seeing the under-dogs oppressed, always wanting to help the most needy people but never able to afford to.

    I will continue to look through this site to try to get better information on dietary and lifestyle changes to help in these areas. A lot of the problems in my life have been outside of my control but the physical and mental issues that have come from a heretofore unknown cause have added fuel to the fire, and I’m ready to finally feel “fixed” and whole. Spiritually, I am, but physically and stress-tolerance wise, not so much.

  13. Any thoughts on using black cumin seed oil instead of evening primrose for omega 6? Also, have heard that as omega 3 cancels 6 out so as long as omega 3 intake is considerably lower than 6 you could get benefit from both. Please advise? Thank you!

  14. I have high pyrolles. I recently had my fatty acid profile tested and it showed I was okay for Omega 6 (I use EPO exclusively) however I was severely deficient in Omega 3’s. In this instance should I add Omega 3?

    1. Hi Sue. I am not an expert, just a fellow pyrroluriac who is very interested in your test results. Like several others who have made comments on this article, i have been wondering what happens regarding your omega 3/omega 6 metabolism when you treat your pyrroluria?? To me, your results would seem to indicate that you do normalize with treatment. . . . . . Have you known about and treated your pyrroluria for long? I was tested about two years ago and have been taking high levels of zinc since. After one year my copper was still high in relation to my zinc, but now after two years my zinc:copper ratio has reversed and my doctor said i now need to back off on the zinc. I wonder if that means some of my other metabolic processes (like omega 3’s and 6’s have also somewhat sorted themselves? . . . . Anyway, thanks for sharing your test results! Very interesting.

  15. What test do you recommend for pyroluria as my local Lab Corp & Quest do not offer it & where can I purchase it? My son has many of the symptoms. Do you think kryptopyrrole urine is sufficient or should we test for copper, zinc & histamine also.

    1. I use DHA laboratory. Additional labs are always advisable but without an assessment, it’s impossible to determine what would be best for your son.

  16. On The DHA lab test, I tested high for kryptopyrroles (18.94). Sample was taken in the morning. I am also an undermythlator. I am working with a practitioner who is helping my family recover from Mold exposure in our house, but I have had a difficult time finding a practitioner who really understands pyrolluria and the tpye of methylation deficiency I have well. A previous practitioner put me on methylfolate which was not good. I’m currently taking a multi from Seeking Health wich contains 25mg p5p and 15mg zinc and no folate. I’m just not sure how to get the correct amounts of all the nutrients to help with the pyrolluria, the methylation, and the mold exposure. My main concern is anxiety. How do I get a consulation with Samantha or should I try to get a consult with somone like Mensa? Thank you!

    1. Jill, when I tested for pyrroles in the early afternoon i had a result like yours, just barely out of the the normal range. When i tested a year later in the late afternoon i had result in the 60’s, very high. Since you had a high result in the morning when pyrrole excretion tends to be low, you would probably test much higher later in the day. Late in the day on a day when you are having some stress is the best time.

  17. Hi
    What are your reccomendations for pregnancy? I want to nourish my baby and try make sure i dont also give it pyrroluria. My dr has stopped my B6 and zinc, waiting for my metagenics pregnancy multi to turn up in the mail. Im week 6.
    Any advice would be great!
    Thank you

  18. Michele Marbelle

    I am on undermethylated Primer as a diagnosed woman with Pyrrole (bought on by trauma.)
    I have been taking 3 Flaxseed oil supplements daily. Exactly WHERE does a possible inflammation occur?

      1. What effect does treating with B6 and zinc have on a pyrroluriac’s toleration of/need for omega 3’s and omega 6’s?

  19. My 8 y.o son (PD) didn’t do well on fish oil that was prescribed by a naturopath. Another 6 months later an integrative GP put him on EPO and he smashed the house and had absolute meltdowns for a week til we stopped it.

      1. Some people do better with either evening primrose oil or borage oil, and react negatively to the other. I never did well with EPO but really like borage oil.

      1. Thomas F. Pequignot

        Pyroluria which was high has been in the low normal position now for a year as tested by Direct Healthcare. Still be careful?

  20. So interesting that I’ve come across this article right now as I’ve been conscious of upping my omega 3 and added flax seed to my breakfast this morning, by 10am I started to become quite anxious and withdrawn.. It’s now 7pm and my chest is tight (anxiety) and I’ve got so much adrenaline and nervous energy about me.. I’ve done nothing different today bar the flax seeds..
    Thank you for this information! Different bodies need different things!!

  21. Hi Samantha,

    Could you please advise of the research that indicates Omega 3’s increase inflammation in pyrolics, and which Omega’s you are referring to? As my understanding is that zinc isn’t a cofactor for the metabolism of Omega 3’s like fish oil whereas it is for ones like walnuts.

    1. Click on the links at the end of my post. #1 “Normally the desaturase enzymes which metabolize EFAs have a higher affinity for the n3 (Omega3) series. It has been proposed that in schizophrenia (as it pertains to Pyrrole disorder) mutant desaturases are present which prefer the n6 series. This change would account for the low levels of linoleic acid, dihomogammalinolenic acid and 1 series prostaglandins which have been reported in schizophrenia.” Emphasis mine. #2 “In pyroluric patients arachidonic acid (AA) was significantly decreased.”

      1. “It has been proposed…” That’s not research, that a hypothesis.

        Is there actually any research outside of Pfieffer and Walsh, etc., that shows that pyrrole disorder is a real condition?

      2. That was a quote from another paper, not Dr. Walsh. Dr. Walsh’s research has been approved of and endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association. Do you really think they would do so if it were bunk research? Pyrrole disorder is absolutely a real condition with the urine kryptopyrrole test providing accurate, clinical data with which to create treatment plans.

      3. It’s to bad that the AM. Psychiatric Association still only passes out SSRI’s for treatment. I’m almost 69 and for 25 yrs. was severely drugged for Bi-polar to the point of having serotonin toxcidity and a trip to ER. I slowly withdrew from huge doses of SSRI’s (which took 3 yrs) with the help of Ann Blake Tracy (drugawareness.org). I have severe health issues now and was not healthy from childhood, including immune system and sleep issues. I have never heard of these conditions you speck of, but now believe that this condition and most likely over methylation describe me. I have developed widespread sensitivities to many foods and other things so eating has become difficult. I have been to 5 ND’s and the one now has helped me most. Acupuncture, homeopathic and neruo feedback help, but not long term and now I know reasons more. Going to share this with him, as he has never worked with anyone like me. Not sure if he knows testing for these things, but will contact you if need be. Thanks. P.S. is their a chart on foods with high and low histamine levels can print for changing what I eat.

    2. My son took part when Dr Walsh was investigating Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFA’s, and he had a very high Pyrrole count and he came back 50% below normal in Omega 6 as did all those with a high Pyrrole reading, compared to controls.
      Those people with a mental condition without a high Pyrrole count came back deficient in Omega 3 compared to Controls.

    1. You are looking for high levels of GLA, so the two best choices are borage and evening primrose oil. Most people do better with one or the other. As far as i know the only way to find out is to try them. Personally i love borage oil but evening primrose makes me feel nauseous.

  22. Hi Sami, I am curious what you think of the test for pyroluria? I had one done by a reputable lab, followed all the correct procedures, and it came back negative, despite a high score on the self test.
    Thanks, Susan

    1. It is important to take the test sample in the late afternoon, preferably on a day when you are experiencing some stress. The body does not dump pyrroles evenly throughout the day, so it is entirely possible to have high pyrroles, but take the sample at the wrong time and test normal. Pyrrole excretion has also been found to vary widely from day to day. Also the sample can easily degrade, so proper handling (protect from light and keep frozen) is important in getting an an accurate result. I believe many people with high pyrroles take the test, get normal results, and go away thinking they don’t have pyrroluria when in fact they do. My first test result (sample taken early afternoon) was barely out of the normal range. When i tested again a year later (sample taken just before dinner) the result was extremely high! I’s worth redoing the test if you fit the profile. . . . . I eat a lot of fish. I wonder if that is a problem if i am taking plenty of P5P and zinc and keeping my pyrrole levels down? . . . . I found i couldn’t tolerate regular B6 but do very well on the activated form, P5P. Apparently many people have trouble activating and/or meatabolizing and getting rid of regular B6, so it either does no good and/or reaches toxic levels. . . . . When i first started on the P5P i could hardly believe how much better I felt, and how quickly.

      1. Great info Terry! I had recurrent bouts of psych issues after my baby was born for about 5 years. Horrible anxiety and fear with psychotic features. I had the same experience with the test, and was toxic on B6. Thanks for sharing that this is common. How helpful–I did not know and have been trying to connect the dots on this! When I recently started working with Sami we prioritized my supplements and got me on zinc and P5P. Wow. Feeling amazing…better all the time and so greatful!

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