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Can Psychological Symptoms be Treated by Working on Brain Chemistry?

Aisling FitzGibbon

When Emily Dickinson wrote “The soul selects her own society then shuts the door”, she may have been trying to make sense of why she had chosen isolation and seclusion in her later years. She could have been trying to cope with the increasing biochemical abnormalities that produced the physical and psychiatric symptoms of pyroluria. Her history of headaches, nervous exhaustion, a change of handwriting and a growing familial dependence point to a disorder that affects 15% of those who have been diagnosed with depression.

Pyroluria is a stress disorder with onset of depression often triggered by severe emotional or physical trauma. Most pyrolurics experience 50% of the following symptoms.

·        Extreme mood swings that may occur daily

·        Inability to cope with stress

·        Rages

·        Absence of dream recall

·        Tendency to sunburn and inability to tan

·        Morning nausea

·        Sensitivity to bright lights and to loud noises

·        Disturbed menstrual cycle (females)

·        Great inner tension

·        Premature greying of hair

·        Spleen area pain

·        Joint pains

·        Obsessions with negative thoughts

·        Fearfulness

·        Abnormal fat distribution – more fat at midsection and upper thighs

·        Academic underachievement regardless of intelligence

·        Severe anxiety

·        Affinity for isolation

·        Autoimmune disorders (sign of oxidative stress in the body)

·        Elevated kryptopyrroles in the urine

·        Tendency to delay or skip breakfast

·        Psoriasis

·        Tendency to stay up late

·        Delayed puberty and significant growth after the age of 16

·        Anaemia that does not respond to iron but will respond to vitamin B6. 

·        History of a reading disorder

·        Fear of airplane travel

·        Frequent infections

·        Preference for spicy foods

 Pyroluria is a correctable biochemical imbalance involving an abnormality in haemoglobin synthesis. It can either be genetic or acquired through environmental or emotional stress or from a leaky gut. It results in a chronic deficiency in both zinc and vitamin B6. Pyroluria affects brain chemistry by lowering levels of serotonin, dopamine and GABA which can cause anxiety and depression. Treatment involves providing therapeutic levels of zinc and vitamin B6.  As pyrrole disorder often causes oxidative stress, the addiction of antioxidants such as Vitamin C, E and glutathione often help with the treatment. 

The onset of pyroluria is often following a period of extreme stress. Most people with elevated pyrroles have mild symptoms that don’t interfere with their lives, However, there are others who exhibit a severe version of this imbalance and report that symptoms abate once zinc and B6 therapy is started. Both Dr Carl Pfeiffer and Dr Bill Walsh have documented cases of patients with pyroluria who were freed from their psychiatric difficulties from a combined treatment of vitamin B6 and Zinc.

The good news is that improvement is noticed within a shirt space of time and the full effects of the therapy are felt within 4- 6 weeks. However, taking higher than normal levels of zinc and B 6 will begin to mobilise copper from the tissues. Clients need to be aware of this and the transient symptoms that can occur with a copper detox. Copper toxicity does not lead to pyroluria but pyroluria can lead to copper toxicity.

What tests can I undertake to check my zinc and vitamin B6 levels? 

Thanks to my training with Dr Bill Walsh, I now offer my clients blood/urine testing to ascertain zinc and B6 status. I include a careful review of symptoms and help prescribe a programme that normalises brain chemistry. At every stage of treatment I act as a guide, interpreting symptoms that may arise as a result of changing one's biochemistry. 

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