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Ask Dr. Mike: Sleep & Weight Loss, Pain While Exercising, PLUS Curcumin & Depression

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

As I've read, depression might be linked to inflammation and is the reason I started ordering curcumin. If it is true, then why hasn't the curcumin benefited my inflammation and depression?

Yes, it IS true that inflammation is associated with depression.

Unfortunately, chronic inflammation is associated with mood disorders and neurodegenerative disorders (like Alzheimer's). If the curcumin isn't helping your depression and your inflammation, you may want to consider checking your dosing and the kind of curcumin you're taking.

In Dr. Mike's opinion, BCM-95 is the best kind of curcumin you should be taking.

Is it okay if I'm feeling a little pain to continue to exercise?

Yes, having a little pain while exercising is normal. When you exercise, you're straining your muscle. It hurts the next day, but it's also in the process of repairing itself to come back stronger.

However, if your pain is unbearable and is getting in the way of your everyday life, you might want to hold off and see your doctor.

Don't women sleep less than men and could that affect weight loss?

Dr. Mike has heard that women sleep less than men during their younger years. However, as women and men both age, it's been noted that women actually sleep better than men. Either way, sleep is a huge part of weight loss. If you're not getting enough sleep, you're more likely to gain weight and have difficulty losing it.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: April 16, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

RadioMD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike. Do you have a question about your health? Dr. Mike can answer your questions. Just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call now: 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

DR MIKE: Alright this question came from Rita and its about a specific natural anti-inflammatory curcumin from the turmeric spice. There's actually two questions, so I'm going to first do the first question which is more about the curcumin and maybe why it's not working. As of now, I'm not reading the whole thing. She wrote a whole bunch of stuff. I'm just going to focus on the middle part of this and then the main question.

"As I read nowadays that depression may be linked also to inflammation and so that's the reason I started ordering the curcumin. Would it be possible if you could provide some correlation that this link between inflammation and depression is true? And if it's true, though, why hasn't the curcumin benefited me so far in regards to inflammation and depression?"

So, let me just try to summarize the question. So here you have somebody, who it sounds like, Rita, is dealing with some depression and she says inflammation around her body, so maybe some joint issues, maybe some chronic pain issues. Something like that, I'm assuming. She reads about natural anti-inflammatories like curcumin and especially is interested in that inflammation/depression link. She starts to take the curcumin and the first thing she wants to know is, is that association correct about inflammation and depression but why isn't the curcumin helping? So, let's address both of those questions.

The first thing, yes, Rita, inflammation is associated with depression and we have to be careful how we say that. You know there are two things in medicine. There's cause/effect or there are associations and what we know is that chronic inflammation is associated with many age-related disorders. It's what I call the common denominator of age-related diseases and that includes mood disorders. Lots of research is showing that mood disorders, neuro-degeneration disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, seizure disorders and all that, are linked to higher levels of inflammatory markers in the brain.

And that's well established. Again, am I saying that inflammation in the brain causes depression? No, no, no. All we're saying is that if you look at a group of people with mood disorders like depression versus control group people who don't have depression, you'll notice that there is more inflammation in the brains of depressed patients than the control group. So then, the next question might become well, okay, "So, if I lower inflammation, should that not help my depression? Well, yes and no.

I mean, you have to understand that many of the age- related disorders that we deal with here at Life Extension like depression are multifactorial. There are lots of different causes, so to say that you take something to lower inflammation and it doesn't help a mood disorder and then to give up on that anti-inflammatory, well, that may not be the smartest thing to do. Again, recognizing that something like depression is not well understood regardless of what the pharmaceutical companies might tell you.

It's not well understood and it's multifactorial. What I do know is that if you are on a treatment that's working for you when it comes to depression and you do things like eat, better exercise and take natural anti-inflammatories the result--the outcome--will be better, recognizing the multifactorial aspect of something like depression. So, inflammation is associated with mood disorders such as depression controlling chronic inflammation may play a role in improved outcomes in somebody who is being treated conventionally.

But you can't just take curcumin and think it's going to help depression. Now the other question, though, apparently, with Rita is that the curcumin doesn't seem to be helping. I assume that means both with the depression and with what she refers to as inflammation around the body. I'm assuming the chronic pain, the joints, whatever it may be, is not really working. So what's going on there? Well, there are lots of questions there that I would have to ask you, Rita.

What dose of curcumin are you taking? What kind of curcumin? I mean there's the standard--I'll call it the older formulations of curcumin--really aren't that great. To get enough curcumin into your system you have to do 2000, 3000, 4000 mg a day. For the past, let's say three or four years, we've had available a much more absorbable form of curcumin called BCM-95, so make sure you're taking the right dose in the right form. If you're taking the BCM-95, that's the one that absorbs like up to seven times more than the older versions. You could start maybe at 400 mg a day but you might have to work that up to 800 mg a day.

So, I guess the point I want to make with you, Rita, is don't give up on the curcumin. There's solid evidence that curcumin inhibits inflammation by inhibiting very powerful inflammatory markers in the body like NF Kappa Beta, cox and lox. These are all enzymes and proteins that drive inflammation in the body. Curcumin in several laboratory and clinical studies has been shown to bring down those markers, bringing down inflammation. So, don't give up on the curcumin. I think you have to start looking about how you're taking it. What's the dose? What's the formula that you're using? All of those factors will play a role.

Now, she had another question and I think this relates to the inflammation around the body thing. Oh, yes. Please another question. Very important.

"Is it okay if, even feeling a little pain, I continue to exercise?"

And I think this is an awesome question. Yes, having a little pain is completely normal in exercise and according to some specialists, as a matter of fact, there's a lot of researchers--a good friend of mine, Dr. Holly Lucille, who's a naturopathic doctor--she's been on my show. She has her own show on RadioMD. She talks about delayed onset medical soreness.

And, it's not necessarily a bad thing. You know, when you exercise, Rita, and you're straining the muscle a little bit and you break down the muscle fiber. That hurts a little bit the next day but that's actually a good sign that the muscle is going to repair itself and come back stronger. So, a little bit of pain--as long as you're not limited in range of motion type stuff like you can't move. Well, now that's too much pain. But a little bit of pain is a good sign. Yes, you can exercise. Just make sure you're stretching properly, hydrating properly.

I remember Dr. Lucille would tell you get on that curcumin combined with ginseng. That is really good for those types of minor pains. I personally like tart cherry extract. That helps. You can even do some protein supplements just to keep that recovery a little bit shorter, that recovery time. So, yes, you can work out with a little bit of pain and it might even be good. Just be careful. I have to do my disclaimer. If you can't move the arm or the leg in the normal range of motion, then I wouldn't, but a little bit of pain is okay. Great questions, Rita!

I think I have time for maybe one more here. I'm going to save that one.

"You recently talked about why men lose weight faster than women." Oh, yes, I did. That was a whole segment. "But in your assessment, you didn't mention sleep. Don't women sleep less than men and can't that affect weight? Love the show."

Yes. Okay. I didn't mention sleep. I don't know. So, the premise here in this question is that women sleep less. I have heard that in younger life when there's menstruation going on, women do sleep less, but then, as men get older and the women get older, women sleep better and the men start having disruptive sleep because of big prostates. I don't know. So, there might be something but bottom line is, yes, sleep can affect weight. If you don't sleep, it's a stressor on the body. Cortisol levels are higher in the morning. When the cortisol level is too high, you mobilize sugar more and if you don't burn the sugar, you store it as fat. There you go. So, yes, you've got to get sleep. So, thank you for that. Yes, sleep is critical, believe it or not, to a weight loss program.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.