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Pyroluria & Copper Imbalances: Why they are connected and how to properly treat it
(Shout-out to the awesome Mineral Maven member that suggested this post, and helped write it!)
Pyroluria is a condition I’ve heard often in my research on copper imbalance. It’s defined as a genetic biochemical imbalance. Yet, from my reading and working with clients who have been given the pyrrole label, I believe that pyroluria (just like histamine intolerance) is yet another form of a copper imbalance.
What exactly is Pyroluria?
From The Nourished Psychologist:
“Pyroluria, also known as Pyrrole disorder is a little known genetic condition that involves an abnormality in haemoglobin synthesis (the protein that holds iron in your red blood cells). People with Pyroluria produce excess amounts of a byproduct of haemoglobin synthesis which is known as pyrrole (or hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2-one (OHHPL)). Normally this is an unimportant waste product but when the levels of pyrroles are elevated then they bind excessively to zinc and vitamin B6 which renders them unable reach their targets in the body and unavailable to be used. The omega-6 fatty acid GLA is also depleted.”
Common symptoms of Pyroluria include:
- Mood Swings
- Greying of hair too early
- Social anxiety
- Joint and muscle pain
- And you can see the dozens of other symptoms here!
- Then check out my post on Copper issues to see the symptoms of copper excess and copper deficiency- they are basically the same!
Testing and treating for pyroluria
If there are excessive amounts of pyrroles in the urine, then pyroluria is diagnosed (but whether or not the attributed symptoms are due to high pyrrole levels is still unclear). Zinc, B6 and other nutritional deficiencies are involved, so practitioners often test for these. This includes zinc plasma, copper serum, and ceruoplasmin to determine the amounts of unbound copper and zinc:copper ratio. But that is ALL they look at – the unbound copper. I know of several people, who have been diagnosed with pyroluria, and their unbound copper was high BUT their ceruloplasmin was severely low (below 20 and ideal is around 33). So once again, we are looking at a lack of understanding about the role ceruoplasmin plays, in regulating copper (both the toxic/ unbound/ free type and the bioavailable/ bound sort).
Excess, unbound copper is antagonistic to zinc and B6 – the two deficiencies most prevalent in conjunction with high pyrrole levels.The standard treatment uses high doses of isolated zinc & B6 (which can be toxic in even small doses). This can be detrimental for those with low bound copper (the good copper!), even if their unbound copper is high. I’ve seen people say that zinc causes symptoms like anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, vomiting, and even suicidal thoughts*. I’ve also seen people tell others to just PUSH THROUGH these symptoms. Remember, that zinc will displace copper and when taken at a high dose causes intense copper dumping symptoms, while also lowering bioavailable copper (zinc won’t differentiate between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ copper).
We actually need to address high unbound copper by RAISING ceruloplasmin levels, working on the liver and adrenals, and healing the gut, in order to process and use zinc and copper (and other minerals/ vitamins) more efficiently.
If you have been diagnosed with pyroluria (or it’s been suggested you look into it), make sure that you know what your serum copper and ceruoplasmin levels are. In conjunction with an HTMA, these levels will provide vital clues. It may be that you have a copper imbalance, rather than a perceived genetic issue!
Balancing copper correctly includes MANY steps, which is why I take the approach I do. We are so much more imbalanced now then people were a few decades ago when people started treating just copper “toxicity”. So many people need a different approach!
It’s time to change the way people look at copper, as well as healing. The body is a whole! Using HTMA is a great way to look at the whole picture: metabolism, adrenals, hormones, liver, and more.
*If any part of a program you are doing causes you to have suicidal thoughts, there is something WRONG with the program. Please reach out to your doctor/practitioner. The whole purpose of healing should be to gently bring the body back into balance, not to create more chaos in the process. Many things can cause these devastating symptoms (heavy metals, parasites, and yeast especially). But that doesn’t mean that you *have* to experience them when you are healing.