What is Pyrrole Disorder And How To Treat It


Pyrrole disorder is also known as pyroluria, kryptopyrole, Mauve disorder, or kryptopyroluria.  It is a biochemical imbalance involving an abnormality in hemoglobin synthesis. It can be genetic or acquired through environmental and emotional stress. It commonly arises from the frequent use of antibiotics and resulting ‘leaky gut syndrome’.

Unfortunately, pyroluria is not a recognized condition by many physicians. It is wide-spread, and is estimated to occur in at least 10 percent of the U.S population. It affects women slightly more than men. The majority of those who have it go undiagnosed.

Pyrrole disorder is caused by the overproduction of hydroxyhempyrolin (HPL). The HPL binds zinc and vitamin B6, preventing their use by the body and causing excretion in the urine and hair. HPL is a biomarker for oxidative stress and is neurotoxic. Stress of any kind will increase the production of pyrroles/HPL, and this will decrease zinc and vitamin B6.

The main biochemical features of this condition are severe zinc and vitamin B6 deficiency. Zinc is essential for hundreds of processes in the body. It is particularly important for boosting immune function, digestion, neurotransmitter activation, healing, insulin sensitivity, control of blood sugars, memory, physical growth, and DNA replication.

Both zinc and vitamin B6 are essential for production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin (our happy hormone), melatonin (our sleep hormone), GABA (our relaxation hormone), and acetyl choline (important for memory). They are also very important in the production or our steroid hormones such as cortisol (our anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy hormone, and stress hormone), as well as the conversion of oils in the body (fat metabolism, liver and gallbladder function, and weight control). The oils EPA/DHA and GLA are found to be low in those with pyrrole disorder. They are also damaged by oxidative stress, free radicals and toxins created by pyrrole.

Signs And Symptoms Of Pyrrole Disorder

Pyrrole disorder is often seen in children, adolescents and adults who have previously been diagnosed with ADHD, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, anxiety, depression, Tourette syndrome, behavioral disorders, learning disorders, and fears/phobias.

Symptoms may include:

  • White Spots On Fingernails
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Spleen Area Pain
  • Histrionic Behavior
  • Poor Stress Control
  • Sensitivities To Light, Odors, Sounds, Textures (LOST)
  • High Irritability
  • Severe Inner Tension
  • Extreme Mood Swings
  • Short Temper
  • Joint Pains
  • Poor Short Term Memory
  • Frequent Infections
  • Premature Graying
  • Delayed Puberty
  • Morning Nausea
  • Little or No Dream Recall
  • Stretch Marks
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Sweet Or “Fruity” Breath
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Bowel Dysfunction, Including IBS
  • Pale Skin/Easy Sun Burning/Bruising

Most with this disorder will not have all of these symptoms, and may have only two or three. However, in most cases treatment has been unsuccessful with the usual methods (treating the symptoms) as the underlying cause is not being addressed.


Diagnosis Of Pyrrole Disorder

Patients are diagnosed by a urine test which detects pyrroles in the urine. Although this test may be collected at most labs, it is usually sent on to a specialty lab for processing. Most patients have less than 10 mg./dL, so less than 10 is considered negative. Those with 10-20 mg./dL are considered borderline and will often benefit from treatment. Those with a level above 20 mg./dL are considered to have pyrrole disorder. Some have levels in the hundreds.

I also evaluate all patients with pyrrole disorder for leaky gut syndrome, which is commonly found.

How To Treat Pyrrole Disorder

Treatment to correct the imbalance causing Pyrrole disorder involves a program which includes supplementation with zinc, vitamin B6 (and/or pyridoxal 5-phosphate, which is activated B6), GLA, an essential omega 6 fatty acid acid found in evening primrose oil, borage, and black currant oil, vitamin E, and magnesium. Other nutrients that may assist include B3, B5, B12, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium.

Food sources and nutritional supplements containing copper and red/yellow food dyes need to be avoided. Copper is commonly high in those with pyroluria and needs to be detoxified. For my patients, I recommend a hair analysis to check metal and mineral levels, as well as ratios and balances to customize the best treatment.

If leaky gut syndrome is found during the course of an evaluation, it is treated with proper diet and supplementation tailored to eliminate the underlying cause of the LGS.

Supplementation should be introduced gradually under the supervision of a qualified physician. It is not advisable to self-treat, as the dose and sequence of each supplement need to be customized and adjusted for each patient.

If you have any questions or concerns about your health, including the possibility of pyrrole disorder, please feel free to contact my office. My staff will be glad to answer any questions you may have and schedule a telemedicine consultation or office visit for you.



  1. Hi, I am a 27yr old woman with irregular menses/pcos, hypothyroidism and rapid cycling bp2 and anxiety with some depression. I have some of the symptoms listed but some symptoms not at all. I was wondering if I could have this pyrrole condition?

    I did a hair analysis that said have high antimony and slightly high arsenic levels. It also showed I had low copper levels and zinc, but the doctor mentioned some people have hidden copper levels?

    I am not sure what has been happening to me but I have been taking medication for 11 years and I truly need help. I would appreciate any advice, thank you.

    • Hello Ms. Farhang,

      Thank you for contacting me. I will be glad to help you.

      Please contact me by DM at drcraigmaxwell@roadrunner.com. My nurse, Debbi, will assist you in scheduling a telemedicine consultation and answer any questions you may have.

      I look forward to speaking with you soon!

      Warmest regards,

      Dr. Maxwell


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