Pyroluria is associated with a type of anxiety characterized by social anxiety, avoidance of crowds, a feeling of inner tension, and bouts of depression. If you have pyroluria you may experience varying degrees of anxiety or fear, often starting in childhood, and you usually manage to cover it up and push through. You may build your life around one person, become more of a loner over time, have difficulty handling stress or change, and have heightened anxiety symptoms when under more stress.
It’s not well-recognized in the medical profession and has long been considered a genetic condition. More recently some practitioners have been proposing that it may be triggered by environmental toxins and that it’s not only genetic. Either way, symptoms can start to resolve within a week when low levels of zinc and vitamin B6, together with some other nutrients are addressed. Stress management is key. This can be emotional stress and the stress of toxin exposure, infections like Lyme disease, mold toxicity and even low blood sugar and gluten issues.
We would typically not connect social anxiety/pyroluria with low oxytocin, vagus nerve function or connective tissue disorders but if you read on you’ll see there are some interesting connections.
Oxytocin, social anxiety and zinc
Research has found that oxytocin levels correlate strongly with levels of social anxiety. A paper published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research looked at how variations in the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene is associated with an increased risk of anxiety, stress and depression in individuals with a history of exposure to early life stress. Supporting low levels of oxytocin can ease the threats of social interactions.
What is interesting is that zinc, a key nutrient for pyroluria, is needed for binding oxytocin to its receptor. You can read more about all this here: Oxytocin, social anxiety, pyroluria and autism
Sociability improves vagus nerve function and thriving at home alone
Increased sociability helps improve vagus nerve function. It’s all good and well to recommend getting out and hanging out with more people but if you have pyroluria it’s really challenging. It’s also hard work, very stressful and the added stress makes your pyroluria symptoms worse so it becomes a vicious cycle.
You can read all about this here: Increased sociability improves vagus nerve function: the role of social anxiety, pyroluria and low zinc. There is an updated section on social isolation during coronavirus and how some people are thriving being home alone.
Pectus excavatum and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Pectus excavatum is an indentation in the chest wall and is related to problems with connective tissue. When it comes to pyroluria and pectus excavatum, this is what we see in common: social anxiety and depression, low zinc and low vitamin B6, dental crowding and sometimes Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). I write more about this here: Pectus excavatum and pyroluria: is there a connection?.
I’ve written an entire blog on Joint hypermobility / Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and pyroluria. Anxiety, depression, attention deficit (and hyperactivity) disorder, autism spectrum disorders, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are all common with EDS. Many folks with EDS report better less social anxiety, improved mood and often improved physical symptoms/reduced pain on the pyroluria protocol of zinc, vitamin B6, evening primrose oil and a good copper-free multi.
Resources for you
- My book The Antianxiety Food Solution (my Amazon affiliate link) has an entire chapter on pyroluria. Read it and become a savvy health-advocate for yourself. Share a copy with your doctor and point out the references.
- Here is the pyroluria questionnaire. Here is a blog if you’re new to pyroluria and the associated conditions.
- You can find the pyroluria products in my supplement store here.
Please do share if you have pyroluria or score high on the questionnaire and have seen improvements in your social anxiety and any physical symptoms.