His radical approach has its origins in a troubled childhood in which hunger and other challenges led to an almost permanent stomachache. Attempting to feel better, he found relief in a combination of deep breathing, self-massage, and a well-informed choice of food.
After successfully helping clients with all manner of complaints, Pallardy became increasingly convinced of strong unconscious emotional links between the ‘first brain’ and the ‘second brain’, in the stomach.
This assertion that everything relates back to the abdomen may not appear particularly logical or even defensible, as Pallardy states himself. “I recall the skepticism with which some of my patients — and, indeed, my colleagues — greeted this notion,” he writes. But he “clung stubbornly” to this view, and years later was gratified to find his beliefs confirmed when scientists discovered that the abdomen produces large numbers of immune cells and neurotransmitters, including serotonin.
The 1998 publication of Michael D. Gershon’s The Second Brain brought this idea to a wider audience. Confident of a strong evidence base, Pallardy decided to publish his advice, based around seven easy steps to health and healing.
So how can taking care of your stomach help alleviate depression? Pallardy states that although depression is first and foremost a state of mind, “it is also an abdominal condition.” He believes that scientific evidence points to a symbiotic relationship between the two brains. When the ‘first’ brain is distressed, the abdomen suffers, he writes. Disappointments, disagreements, or any form of emotional upheaval will “tie the abdomen in knots.” Negative thoughts weigh heavily on the abdomen and disrupt its proper functioning. Restoring equilibrium between the two brains will one day form the basis of psychotherapy, he believes.
Pallardy recommends eating to “modify the brain chemistry” because depression can induce anarchic eating habits.