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An imbalance common to a myriad of Mental Illnesses ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Schizophrenia, and Bipolar Disorder

Have you heard of Pyroluria or Pyrrole disorder yet? I have noticed many of my patients particularly children are presenting with excessively high amounts of behavioural disorders than ever before. A marked number of children have anxiety, stress rings in their eyes (seen via Iridology), trouble concentrating at school and are being diagnosed with ADHD or oppositional defiance disorder.

What does this mean and what is causing it?  One reason could be Pyrrole disorder which can be tested by a simple urine sample.  According to Dr William Walsh, a world expert on mental health disorders:

Pyrrole Disorder

A common feature of many behavior and emotional disorders is Pyroluria, an inborn error of pyrrole chemistry which results in a dramatic deficiency of zinc and Vitamin B-6.   Common symptoms include explosive temper, emotional mood swings, poor short-term memory, and frequent infections. The decisive laboratory test is analysis for pyrrole levels in urine.  Treatment centers on normalizing blood levels of B-6 and zinc.

It is well known that mental illnesses such as ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder and aggressive/violent behaviours are largely due to imbalances in brain chemistry. A common feature of these disorders according to Dr. Bill Walsh (1) is pyroluria which is caused by the body over producing a product called HPL (hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2-one) during red blood cell (haemoglobin) production or from increased breakdown of red blood cells (2,3,4).  It is also thought to be related to leaky gut allowing HPL to renter the circulation.

HPL actually binds to B6 and Zinc and they are then eliminated in the urine (2,5). Without B6 and zinc it is impossible for our bodies to make important neurotransmitters like serotonin. It can also affect hormone production and vital body systems. It can cause the loss of Omega 6 fatty acids so some practitioners will recommend Omega 6 oil supplementation.

The effect of pyroluria can be mild, moderate or severe depending on the extent of the imbalance. There are strong genetic links, but evidence also shows that raised HPL in the urine is an indication of oxidative stress and zinc deficiency alone (4).

Symptoms can include pessimism, anaemia, poor stress control, fearfulness, episodic anger, poor short term memory, gastrointestinal disorders, frequent infections along with the mental health issues mentioned above including anxiety and depression.

According to one expert elevated urinary pyrrole levels are found in Down syndrome (70%), Schizophrenia (up to 70%), autism (50%), ADHD (30%), and alcoholism (up to 80%). 43% of patients diagnosed with arthritis, chronic fatigue, heart disease, hypertension, irritable bowel, and migraine have elevated urinary pyrroles (4).

Pyroluria can be detected with a special screening method via urine test that is extremely sensitive. Levels of HPL of 0-10 are considered normal/negative, 10-20 is considered borderline and above 20 are elevated for children. Adult ranges are higher. These levels might change soon depending on the results of a landmark study that I am involved with and am currently recruiting patients for (see details below).

Dr Bill Walsh in the USA conducted research that showed that nutrients can have tremendous healing power on the brain (9). In my work in clinic with children I have started to see a huge increase in those testing positive to pyrroles. My treatment is very simple and involves simple B6 and zinc. I don’t generally use compounded supplements but always practitioner products but it is individualized treatment on a case by case basis. I also make sure to treat the gut in order to heal any leaky gut and of course the liver to improve detoxification pathways.

I find this approach successful in many cases. Of course as everyone who comes in for an appointment with me is treated as an individual this protocol may vary. And remember this is just one genetic cause there are thousands of other genes that can be implicated. We should also not dismiss the gut here, often thought of as the second brain. Balancing the bacteria in the gut along with healing leaky gut or intestinal permeability can have long term impacts not just on mental health but physical health.

I am currently recruiting patients onto a trial to verify the validity and establish the reference range for urinary pyrrole testing. A pyrrole test is provided at a reduced rate. Please call the clinic on 02 99139781 for more information or email me

References and information above thanks to Applied Analytical Laboratories Queensland

  1. Walsh, W., “Nutrients Help Alleviate Mental Symptoms”, Well Being Journal Vol.11, No.4, July/August 2002.
  2. Kaslow, J.E., “Pyroluria”,
  3. The AnalystTM “Pyroluria”, Jan 18, 2003
  4. McGinnis, W., “Pyroluria: Hidden Cause of Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Depression, and Anxiety Symptoms.” International Guide to the World of Alternative Mental Health, Orlando 21 May 2004.
  5. Hoffer, A.H. “The Discovery of Kryptopyrrole and its importance in diagnosis of Biochemical Imbalances in Schizophrenia and in Criminal Behaviour”, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol 10, No.1, 1995.
  6. Sohler, A., Holsztynska, E., & Pfeiffer, C.C., Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry, 3; 273
  7. Walsh, W. Private communications, 2003.
  8. Stuckey, R., Walsh, W., Lambert, B., “The Effectiveness of Targeted Nutrient Therapy in Treatment of Mental Illness – A Pilot Study”, Journal of the Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, Vol 29, No. 3, p3-6, November 2010.
  9. Walsh, W., “Nutrient Power” Heal your biochemistry and heal your brain” Skyhorse Publishing, 2014, Canada


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