I’ve always suspected that the fine hand and finger movements required for handwriting offered a glimpse into the status of the microbiome. Let me explain.
The letter above was written by President Ronald Reagan in November, 1994 announcing his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s dementia. Compare the handwriting of this letter with his writing from a few years earlier in 1986:
You can appreciate that his pre-Alzheimer’s handwriting is smoother, with more consistent size of the letters and more consistent letter alignment, while the post-diagnosis handwriting is shakier, letter formation less consistent. (Of course, dementia is not an all-or-none situation; it is likely that the brain pathology of Alzheimer’s was already quite well established by the time he wrote the 1986 letter, but the situation was just worse by 1994.)
This is not news. It has been known for many years that, as neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s dementia worsen, the ability to write, even sign your name, deteriorates. It is also common for handwriting to degenerate with aging in the absence of dementia, often interfered with by tremor. But whether the use of handwriting analysis as a tool to detect or track dementia or as a tool to track aging are works in progress.
Emerging science is increasingly associating at least some aspects of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) with dysbiosis, small intestinal bacterial and fungal overgrowth (SIBO and SIFO), and the endotoxemia that results from these situations. (Endotoxemia refers to the entry of bacterial and/or fungal wall breakdown products into the bloodstream, the phenomenon that explains how the composition of bowel flora can be experienced as conditions in the brain, skin, prostate, uterus, or heart.) The brains of people with dementia, for instance, have been found to be densely riddled with fungi, as compared to the lesser quantities found in elderly people without dementia. Eradication of H. pylori (that plays a role in influencing bowel flora composition farther down the gastrointestinal tract) from the stomach in people with Parkinson’s disease is more effective than Parkinsonian drugs for this condition in slowing or reversing some of the neurological phenomena of the disease.
Now here is where I venture into uncharted territory: Can we use handwriting to determine whether bacterial and/or fungal overgrowth, and thereby endotoxemia, play a role in handwriting? Can features of handwriting, and perhaps tremor that often accompanies deteriorating handwriting, therefore be used to identify endotoxemia (and thereby SIBO and SIFO) and track success or failure in eradicating these situations?
Unfortunately, there has been no formal study of this phenomenon. But I think of all the people I’ve seen over the years who have had handwriting deterioration, tremor, who had the hallmarks of bacterial and fungal overgrowth.
Bottom line: While speculative, handwriting and the presence of tremor you might view as a body sign that endotoxemia is influencing your brain health and at least consider assessing yourself for SIBO and/or SIFO, then take steps to manage.