People suffering from Pyroluria also endure the crippling effects of Depression, without fully understanding why. I hope that by the end of this article the link between Depression and Pyroluria will become a lot clearer.
Depression can be caused by many factors, but one of the most common causes is the lack of a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called serotonin. Serotonin is our feel good neurotransmitter and when we have adequate levels we feel positive, cheerful, content, joyful and happy with life. Conversely when those levels are lower than they should be we feel down, sad, moody, angry and of course depressed, which are many of the negative symptoms associated with Pyroluria.
To understand the connection between Pyroluria and Depression we need to have a basic understanding of how the body makes serotonin. From the diagram below you can see in the middle of the serotonin pathway is the essential amino acid tryptophan. Before tryptophan can be absorbed it needs to be cleaved from food, for which there needs to be adequate levels of stomach acid and pancreatic or digestive enzymes. Once absorbed, tryptophan is then converted to a substance called 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) and then onto serotonin. For many people this process works quiet effectively, but unfortunately for the poor Pyroluria sufferer the task is difficult.
As mentioned the digestive system needs to be at the top of its game so it can remove tryptophan from foods. Firstly the stomach acid starts to denature the food before passing it along to the intestinal tract where the digestive enzymes break the food down into microscopic particles so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Vitamin B6 and zinc are integral components needed to manufacture stomach acid and biotin is a essential part of pancreatic juices, which contains the digestive enzymes.
If there is some success with this process and tryptophan is absorbed, there is usually one more hurdle that causes the Pyroluria sufferer to stumble, and that's converting 5HTP into serotonin. For this process to work effectively the enzyme Dopa decarboxylase is needed, and to activate this enzyme zinc and vitamin B6 are required. It makes sense that if the nutrients necessary to make serotonin are not present, then some form of depression will result.
So hopefully you can now begin to understand how Pyroluria contributes to Depression. We would love to hear what you think, please share your comments below.
To find out more please listen to a podcast from Dr Greg Newson explaining more about the connection between Pyroluria and Depression.
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