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Pyrrole disorder and histamine intolerance: my experience

Susan Hunter Mental Health 1 Comment

They’re not words you hear in everyday conversation too often – ‘pyrrole disorder‘ and ‘histamine intolerance’. But boy, do I have a story to tell about them.

After my second child was born I experienced the worst two years of my life. It wasn’t his fault – he was an angel. But I had a new baby who had reflux or colic (we never knew which of the two), a two year old throwing world-class tantrums, a busy naturopathic consulting business and all the usual home stuff to deal with.

Like most new mums, I was overwhelmed, but this story is about much more than that. Let’s go back to where it all began.

I had always been uber productive and a real doer. I was always up for the challenge and in most situations I got the job done. Adrenaline had served me well in the past and I thought it would continue to. However, this time, just kicking into adrenaline mode to get through was not enough. As each week went by, my coping mechanisms became less and less able to … cope.

stress danger signsSo I rationalised. Initially I thought this was because of sleep deprivation, too much on my plate, not eating as well as I should. But all along there was a nagging feeling that there was more to it. I felt like I was running on empty. I describe it to clients as “operating with no padding”. I would cry easily, experience explosive anger when my kids frustrated me and then, moments later, would experience strong remorse. The mother guilt would just wash over me for hours, days sometimes.

I now describe it as drowning. I could not get my head above water to breathe. There was no perspective. I did not have the ability to implement strategies or the very sensible advice from loved ones. There were many times when I just wanted to get a script for an anti-depressant or Valium and medicate it all away.

pyrrole disorderYou might be thinking, well, this sounds like post-natal depression. It quite possibly was but I never sought a diagnosis for it. Instead, I started using the usual serotonin-building nutrients like vitamin B6 and 5-hydroxy-tryptophan, but they did not work. I did everything I knew with diet, lifestyle and nutrition and herbs for stress support, all to no avail.

Never one to give up, I tried a different approach. I recalled a seminar by one of my mentors from a few years earlier in which she discussed Pyrrole disorder, histamine intolerance and poor methylation. At the time I felt that it was only applicable to my clients with mood disorders.

Talk about lightbulb moments.

The more I thought about how I was feeling, the more I realised I needed to know if these were the drivers for my mood and stress problems. I already knew I was suffering from a terrible and largely untreatable condition known as ‘parenthood’, but this new line of inquiry suddenly gave me hope that I could find some answers for the other things ailing me.

I saw a trusted GP and did some blood tests to work out what was missing. She supported me through the testing process and I was relieved when I got a positive diagnosis for Pyrrole disorder. I had the high HPL reading on the Pyrrole urine test, the high blood histamine and my methylation markers indicated I was methylating poorly. Eureka!

(I had been positive for parenthood all along – you only have to see the backseat of the family car to know I’m a sufferer.)

There is one thing I love giving clients in clinic – answers. Once we have an explanation we can start the work of fixing it. There is very little that is not reversible. Now I had my own answer.

I spent the next 12 months (there is no magic pill for this!) working on healing myself. I saw an integrative psychiatrist, discovered the work by Byron Katie , changed my diet, had my gene profiling done, supported the biochemical pathways and genetic polymorphisms in my body that needed some much needed help and I worked on optimising my gut health.

That feeling of drowning in my emotions eventually lifted. I regained the perspective I had craved, my negativity cleared and I felt like a better version of myself was emerging. I was able to enjoy my beautiful young children and amazing husband again. Don’t get me wrong – there are still times when I have to re-assess what my body needs (and I still live with the debilitating side-effects of parenthood). But this Pyrrole and poor methylation thing is an ongoing journey and requires management.

Now I am happy to say I am well again, and having uncovered, treated and managed the condition in me, I feel uniquely qualified to help others start to find their own answers.

Susan Hunter
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Susan Hunter

B.Hsc (Naturopathy), B.A. (Psych) at Healthful Clinic - Founder and Director
Susan Hunter is a double-degree qualified naturopath, a published academic author and the founder of Healthful Clinic. She writes widely on mental health, digestive conditions and children's health.
Susan Hunter
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