A recent blog titled “Anxiety, Benzodiazepines and Addictions” suggests anxiety may result from a variety of molecular imbalances affecting the brain.
Identifying an imbalance to correct takes careful investigation and/or testing, but you can be sure the underlying problem is not based on a shortage of pharmaceutical drugs. Initially, drugs will mask symptoms; long-term, they’ll exacerbate many of the biochemical distortions that cause anxious symptoms, but they never correct them.
Unfortunately, many people turn to drugs when trying to solve their anxiety issues, a phenomenon I would attribute primarily to reckless faith in Big Pharma’s ads, and bad advice from doctors.
Correcting the biochemical distortions causing anxiety, rather than changing the structure of the brain with a drug is (in my opinion) a more sane way to treat anxiety.
To begin, first consider the biochemical possibilities that may be the primary cause of long-term biochemical-based anxiety:
- nutrient deficiency
- elevated blood lactate
- food and chemical sensitivities
- a high imbalance of excitatory neurotransmitters
What is Pyroluria?
Pyroluria is a biochemical imbalance that many anxious people have been living with for years. Although identified and studied since the 1950s, chances are your doctor has never heard of it.
Pyroluria requires an understanding of biochemical processes that make life possible, along with orthomolecular knowledge to keep these processes functioning properly… and as Dr. Hugh Riordan once noted, “Orthomolecular medicine is not the answer to any question posed in medical school.”
Pyroluria is a genetic, chemical imbalance, involving abnormal hemoglobin synthesis. People with this disorder over-synthesize a chemical byproduct called kryptopyrroles (KP or pyrroles) which appears in the bloodstream. This chemical has little or no function in the body and is efficiently excreted in urine. The problem with pyrroles is their strong affinity for pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and zinc. Pyrroles take these essential nutrients with them when they are excreted, and this brings on many metabolic imbalances that the brain expresses as anxiety.
A quick overview of what those nutrients do for us explains why:
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) acts as a coenzyme for over fifty different enzymes. It is essential in the metabolism of all amino acids for their conversion into neurotransmitters. It also supports the immune system. Deficiency symptoms include anxiety, nervousness, and depression. Severe deficiency cause convulsions, heightened anxiety, and extreme nervous exhaustion
Zinc is a mineral that often works together with B6 to affect numerous functions in the body. It aids in the formation of insulin and is essential for protein synthesis. It helps the body maintain acid/alkaline (Ph) balance, works to normalize prostate function (even reverses some cases of impotence), helps to normalize all reproductive organs, accelerates the healing of wounds, revives our taste for foods, promotes mental alertness, decreases cholesterol, and aids in the treatment of schizophrenia.
Serious zinc deficiency affects brain function, creating severe mental problems, including learning and behavioral disorders, and the inability to handle stress. Zinc is essential for hormonal activity, reproductive health, and normal physiological function.
At Health Recovery Center, the symptoms observed from B6 and zinc deficiencies include:
- episodic anger
- poor stress control
- severe inner tension
- emotional mood swings
Depending on the quantity of pyrroles produced, a pyroluric will show at least two or more of these symptoms in various degrees.
Pyroluria is a stress disorder based on the abnormal production of kryptopyrroles. Pyrrole levels can be measured with a chemical analysis of urine. Normally, people (non-pyrolurics) have pyrrole levels of 0-10 micrograms per deciliter. People with levels above 20 are considered to have pyroluria, especially when the aforementioned symptoms are present.
For testing, samples need to be carefully handled, due to kryptopyrrole’s tendency to decompose quickly. Urine samples should be frozen and overnighted on dry ice to a reputable lab. Sometimes it is necessary to repeat the test to properly identify KP levels. The test will not be accurate if the patient has been taking B6 and zinc prior to giving a sample.
Mild and moderate pyroluria usually responds rapidly to treatment, provided there are no other chemical imbalances.
Severe pyroluria may take several weeks before progress begins with gradual improvement over 3-12 months. If the nutritional treatment is stopped, symptoms usually reoccur within two to four weeks. Pyroluria is treated by loading high levels of vitamin B6 and zinc so both deficiencies get corrected.
Zinc must be provided in an efficiently absorbed form. I prefer Albion Lab’s reacted chelate zinc (find at Bio-RecoveryInc.com). Vitamin B6 is given as both pyridoxine hydrochloride and pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P).
To assist correcting the imbalance, other cofactors are also recommended:
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
- B3 niacinamide
- a pinch of manganese
Health Recovery Center has been successfully treating this problem for over 35 years. We know, left uncorrected, pyrolurics will return to alcohol and/or other drugs to break up the misery of their unending anxiety.
Besides anxiety, it is not uncommon to find depression in pyrolurics. This is because B6 and zinc are important co-factors required in the conversion of omega 6 essential fatty acids to an important metabolite, called Prostaglandin E1.
A metabolic failure of this conversion leads to the shortage of this important metabolite, which the brain needs to promote wellbeing and prevent depression.
More information about pyroluria including a great prescreen test, a specific formula, and a list of labs recommended by the Health Recovery Center can be found in Dr. Joan Mathews-Larson’s book Depression Free, Naturally.