Flu shot or not? Bryce Wylde Talks to OLM

As Bryce Wylde walked into the elegant Ottawa Sheraton lobby, wearing a blue suit with an affixed poppy to his collar, we shook hands. “You feel well?” he asked attentively. Shocked by the formulation, I quickly answered, “yes, yes, I’m fine thanks, you?” He smiled and nodded convincingly as we moved across the lobby to the salon where, four blue leather club chairs seemed to be patiently waiting for us to sit and start to chat.

Widely known as an alternative medicine expert and as the host of Wylde on Health. He also regularly appears on The Doctor Oz show, CTV’s Canada AM, The Marilyn Denis Show and Steven and Chris to name a few.

Growing up, Wylde learned the roots of homeopathy early through his mother’s old home-antidotes. “Garlic remedies, mustard plasters, among others, were all part of my childhood,” said Wylde. “My mother, perhaps a little ahead of her time, was a vegetarian and a strong believer in natural remedies.” As mother is the experience of wisdom, Wylde began to take an interest in alternative medicine after completing his Bachelor of Science in Bio-Psychology from York University. Wylde explains his tipping point, “after working at Queens Street Mental Hospital, my experience was somewhat negative not being able to access patients through cognitive behavioural psychology techniques since they were often on a lot of medication and it felt futile dealing with “drug pictures.” He became a strong supporter of organic products and anything natural from the ground up. Wylde later received a Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine and Health Sciences from the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine.

While Wylde is not afraid to plant his feet down when it comes to justifying preventive medicine, he stresses not to exclude other types of health care.  “It’s important to integrate non-conventional medicine and make it complementary to conventional medicine,” said Wylde, while on his Nationwide prevent the flu tour. The ‘No Flu For You’ campaign is a coast to coast tour alerting citizens of alternatives to the seasonal flu shot. “I’m not against the flu shot, I just want people to educate themselves before taking it,” he said. “One problem with the flu shot is the mercury in it and there are no safe-levels of mercury.” Wylde also points to a recent Lancet study showing a 59 per cent efficiency rate for the flu shot. “Healthy people might want to consider something else,” he said.

Wylde doesn’t claim to have the magic pill, his goal is to toss the seeds of homeopathy . “There are no miracle solutions guaranteeing you will not be sick, but there are alternative medicine options which will get your body working better,” said Wylde, who continuously tills the ground of alternative medicine. To boost our immune system Wylde points to Vitamin D for us who live north of 32 degrees. “We need to learn more about how to optimize the body and the mind.”

Consumers also want to optimize their wallets and Wylde warns against certain products. “Some cough-drops have more sugar than anything and sugar can aggravate your cough or flu” said Wylde.“Certain ingredients in those products are efficient, such as eucalyptus oil however, you’re better off buying all-natural drops and rub them on your chest,” he said.  “There are many products out there which are useless, buyers beware.” According to Wylde, checking for DIN-HM or NPN number is a good way to ensure you’re buying an efficient product.

In 2009, Canadians spent $338 million on over-the-counter cold and flu products. Profit margins for pharmaceutical companies are excessively high. In 2002, these companies enjoyed a median profit margin of 17 per cent compared with 3.1 per cent for other industries. Last year, four major pharmaceutical companies found themselves on the top 100 companies of Fortune’s ranking of Americans largest companies. Wylde isn’t against pharmaceutical companies, “if you feel there is something wrong, in the words of Jesse Ventura ‘just follow the money’.” The homeopathic does however have a problem with certain methods of advertisement these companies use. “What I find sick are those underlining messages they use, when they tell someone to ask for a specific brand.”

In Wylde’s top ten list of flu prevention tips which include the neti-pot, hand washing, petroleum jelly, the number one suggestion is the Echinacea plant based Jamieson Flu Shield. In 2005, a report in the New England Journal of Medical Review declared the plant to be ineffective in combating the flu and cold, yet Wylde asserts the report is defunct. “It was the best science at the time and they did not analyze the version of the plant used in the Flu Shield,” which is the Echinacea angustifolia variation. In Italy, Wylde  meet-up with the Italian scientists which handle the Echinacea used in the Flu Shield. They removed the immune suppressant found in the plant, making it different from the one studied in the report. Furthermore, the Flu Shield’s Echinacea has no cross-pollination with other types of Echinacea allowing it to keep its immune boosting and flu fighting characteristics. “There are clinical evidence to support the solutions,” said Wylde.

However, Dr. Earl Brown, Medical Professor at Ottawa University disagrees with the statement. “There remains no evidence Echinacea is helpful to fight the flu or the common cold,” said Brown, a specialist in immunology. “I’m not against natural products, in fact, some of the best medicines stem from natural products, such as penicillin and aspirin,” explains Brown. “This whole discourse sounds more like a sales pitch.” Now, you have the choice either you can get the flu shot, pick-up a Jamieson product or just take a shot of natural Jameson Irish Whiskey to fight the flu.

While we try to combat the flu many attempt to condone homeopathy and Brown’s arguments augment the already present skepticism around alternative medicine. For Wylde, “skepticism is healthy, it pushes people to prove what they support.” Wylde, who supports evidence-based products, does have a problem with close-minded people who ignore new valid-arguments. “I just find it unhealthy,” he said. As we went our different ways Wylde said “feel well!” Shocked by the formulation, I responded, “oh yes, yes, you too!”