Porphyria

Source:  Porphyria:  the ultimate cause of common, chronic and environmental illnesses by Steven Rochlitz, PhD

What is Porphyria?

Porphyria is a blood and liver disease.  Purple pigments, known as porphyrins, may be found in stool and urine.  The name porphyria stems from the chemical structure of the porphyrin ring-shape of haem with iron at the centre.  Haem is the part of our red blood cells which gives them the red colour.  It is interesting that chlorophyll, the chemical which gives plants their green colour, is almost identical in shape but instead of iron at the centre, there is magnesium. 

About 40% of the body’s haem is used to build a crucial set of enzymes – abbreviated as CYP45O.  These enzymes are crucial to our survival because they are involved in the liver’s detoxification pathways and because they process our own hormones.  In porphyria, these enzymes don’t function properly.  This inability to function may be due to an inherited genetic defect, toxic exposure or micro-organism infection.  Due to the critical nature of these CYP450 enzymes, deficiencies have been shown to be at least partly responsible for chronic and environmental, or ‘allergic’, illnesses.

These CYP450 enzymes can be found not only in the liver, but also in the gastro-intestinal tract, lungs, skin, kidneys, bladder, sex organs, adrenals, brain and blood vessels.  But all cells contain some of these enzymes – just that some contain more than others.

The list of possible symptoms associated with porphyria is extensive.  It ranges from generalised pain to fibromyalgia, insomnia, food intolerances and adrenal problems to cardiac degeneration and obesity.  For a comprehensive summary on porphyria, please read this report by Steven Rochlitz.