What is Pyrrole Disorder?


Pyrrole disorder came to my attention about ten years ago when I was taking notes at a conference and the presenter said “ of course if there are night terrors you go straight to pyrrole disorder”.


A bell went off in my brain as I frantically jotted down all the information I could. I was thinking of my eight year old whom had suffered night terrors since age three. If you have ever had a child or family member with night terrors you will know they are not regular bad dreams. The person experiencing them rarely has a memory of what happened but can often scream their lungs out during the night and be inconsolable but difficult to wake. In the morning you all wake rattled and shell shocked but the night terror sleeper has no memory of the event.


Some other tell-tale signs and symptoms are;

Anxiety, difficulty adapting to new routines & environments

Skin Disorders, especially dry skin, stretch marks and skin healing

Sleep Disorders, both getting to sleep and maintaining sleep

Hyperemesis in pregnancy

Social anxiety, late puberty, depression, sensitive to criticism

Great sensitivity to light, noise and other stimuli

Low immunity, tendency to anaemia


Pyrroluria is a genetic metabolic condition long recognized by the field of orthomolecular medicine and orthomolecular psychiatry. 


In general, the symptoms of Pyrroluria have a mysteriously intractable quality to them and may lead to lifelong issues with severe inner tension, ongoing anxiety, poor stress tolerance (with added stress of any kind making the symptoms worse), digestive issues and difficulty digesting protein, frequent colds and infections, joint pain or stiffness, acne, eczema or psoriasis, mood swings, reactivity and poor short term memory.

The Science

Pyrroluria impacts the synthesis and metabolism of haemoglobin, the oxygen carrying molecule in the blood. As with all cells in your body there are waste or by-products produced and the by-product of haemoglobin is a metabolite called hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2-one (HPL) also known as Pyrrole.

In someone with Pyrroluria, this metabolite isn’t excreted effectively and also tends to build up under stress of any kind.  Pyrroles bind very strongly with zinc and vitamin B6, making them largely unavailable to the body causing ongoing issues.  Zinc and B6 are critical nutrients for the functioning of your entire body and mind, including digestion, immune functioning as well as emotional and mental health.

Over time, deficiencies can really take their toll on the way you feel and function.  Often people will go for years suffering the effects of Pyrroluria regardless of what therapies they try or how well they eat: An endless frustration until they know what’s going on.

The confusion happens because it’s not uncommon for people to be low in zinc or B6 so many of the symptoms can appear the same. Fortunately here in Australia we have some of the best researchers around in this area. Rachel Arthur is one whom I am very grateful to have as a mentor keeping me updated with the latest testing and research specific to Pyrroluria.

With appropriate supplementation and stress management mild cases of Pyrroluria tend to respond quickly.  More severe cases tend to experience gradual and incremental improvement over a period of several months. There is lot we can do to help.


And how do I know this to be true?

I have the condition myself and live in a Pyrroluria family so we’ve learned the hard way how this impacts your life and health, what works and what doesn’t on the journey of optimising your health.

Please get in touch if this interests you or you would like some advice on further investigations into Pyrroluria.