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.
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.
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
- Explosive anger and rage
Disorders associated with Pyrrole disorder include:
- Bipolar disorder (especially rapid cycling)
- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Asperger syndrome
- Down syndrome
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
- Loss of appetite (especially in the morning)
- Low libido
- Leaky gut
- 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)
- 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.
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.
It’s Not Your Fault You Feel The Way You Do!
Get my free ebook and learn why feeling crappy isn’t your fault. You will also receive regular emails from me with tips, advice, interviews, and recipes. Leave your name and email and I’ll send you a free copy.