Pyroluria – the basics – part 1

Pyroluria is a metabolic disorder involving haemoglobin synthesis and is exacerbated when the body is under stress.  Haemoglobin is an iron containing protein in red blood cells which binds to and transports oxygen around the body. 

In people with pyroluria, a by-product of haemoglobin synthesis called  HPL may build up. HPL  binds to Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and zinc and increased HPL may reduce the levels of these nutrients in your body.

Reduced B6 and zinc and possible secondary deficiencies including other B vitamins, manganese, arachidonic acid and chromium, potential increased copper levels and less efficient oxygenation contribute to a wide range of Pyroluria symptoms:

Pyroluria symptoms

Vitamin B6 and zinc are utilised in hundreds of bodily processes.  Deficiencies may contribute to immune dysfunction, anxiety, depression, heavy metal toxicity and mineral imbalances, among others.

Possible causes of Pyroluria may be genetic predisposition, early childhood trauma or chronic infections. 


Pyroluria is diagnosed by testing the levels of kryptopyrroles in urine. Kryptopyrroles are sensitive to light and you will need to use a specialised facility for testing.  Before testing avoid all nutritional supplements (especially those containing zinc, Vitamin B6 and biotin) for several days.


To treat Pyroluria it is necessary to supplement Vitamin B6 and zinc, and possibly other nutrients such as manganese, biotin and arachidonic acid. As each individual is different, dosage ranges may need to be adjusted to achieve optimal levels. Pyroluria is a condition requiring lifelong monitoring but lower doses, ‘food as medicine’ and lifestyle interventions may be trialled once nutrient levels are replete. In mild cases, symptoms may resolve relatively quickly but in more moderate or severe cases it may take longer (at least 3-6 months) to see results.

Zinc competes with copper for absorption and high levels of zinc supplementation may cause a functional deficiency.  Copper levels will need to be monitored when undertaking a Pyroluria supplementation program.

Stress management

As negative or prolonged stress increases the severity of symptoms it is important to adopt ongoing stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness or counselling.  Less reliance on high GI refined carbohydrates, adequate protein, fibre and probiotic supplementation will improve blood sugar regulation, microflora balance and the production of neurotransmitters which reduce anxiety and decrease Pyroluria symptoms.

Hormonal management

Nutrient deficiencies, increased copper levels, low fibre and leaky gut may influence oestrogen and thyroid hormone levels and treatment may be required to correct any hormonal imbalance.

As a Naturopath, my treatment addresses the underlying cause(s) of Pyroluria  and includes a holistic assessment of your health.  I don’t treat Pyroluria in isolation.


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