Pyrrole disorder, pyrroluria or “Mauve Factor” was first identified in the 1950s by Dr Abram Hoffer. Some people have persistent elevated levels due to abnormal haemoglobin metabolism or synthesis. Elevated pyrroles have been linked with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. Stress, nutritional deficiency, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury can significantly increase pyrrole levels.
What is Pyrrole disorder and who gets it?
Pyrrole disorder, pyrroluria or “Mauve Factor” was first identified in the 1950s by Dr Abram Hoffer, Dr Humphrey Osmond and Dr Carl Pfeiffer. Pyrroles are a by-product of haemoglobin synthesis. Most people have low levels of pyrroles at any given time, but some people have persistent elevated levels due to abnormal haemoglobin metabolism or synthesis.
Elevated pyrroles have been linked with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. This condition affects up to 10 per cent of the population but is more common in people with psychological, learning or behavioural problems.
There is a genetic basis to this condition. For example, if one parent has pyrrole disorder, then there is a fifty per cent chance that it may be passed onto a child. However genes alone do not guarantee pyrroluria. Genes need to be switched on and off. Many factors are responsible for switching these genes on and off, including stress, nutritional deficiency, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury that significantly increase pyrrole levels.
A combination of anxiety and high copper on a hair mineral test increase the diagnostic possibility that someone is suffering from pyrroluria.
Symptoms reflect nutrient deficiency
Pyrroles bind vitamin B6 and Zinc making them unavailable for use by the body. Biotin, magnesium and manganese are also affected.
Symptoms may therefore include:
Poor dream recall
White spots on nails
Sensitivity to noise and bright lights.
What tests are available?
A urine “mauve factor” test is the “gold standard’ used to diagnose pyrroluria. Hair mineral analysis is a good screening test that may show high copper and low zinc. Toxic metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic may also show up. Blood tests measuring copper, caeruloplasmin and zinc may also be useful.
Treatment of pyrrole disorder
If you do have pyrrole disorder, there are a number of things that we can do.
Supplements such as Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Manganese, Biotin, Vitamin C and essential fatty acids are all great ways to support the immune system and supplement any deficiencies caused by the pyrrole.
Additionally, digestive advice and treatment to repair intestinal permeability and improve nutrient absorption and detoxification of heavy metals such as lead and mercury can be of great assistance.
Lastly, since many of the symptoms relate to mood and energy, stress management is a really important thing to address as well since emotional stress is associated with increased pyrrole excretion.
Wishing you great health,
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About Dr Pete
Dr Peter Holsman is a qualified Medical Practitioner, Naturopath and Professional Speaker based in Melbourne. An expert in his field with over 30 years experience, he specialises in treating people with fatigue related illnesses including anxiety, stress, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, digestive concerns, menopause, thyroid and adrenal hormone problems.