A dose of dad’s own medicine : The Tribune India

George N Netto

The pleasant-tasting and mild-acting laxatives available today sometimes make me wonder how we boys stomached the unpalatable potion that was literally forced down our throats in the 1950s. My father had an abiding faith in the efficacy of castor oil as a purgative, having experienced its effectiveness as a boy when it had been forcibly administered to him too. As such, he scorned all popular brands of laxatives, opting for this vile-tasting remedy to thoroughly cleanse our digestive systems, banish constipation and rekindle our waning appetites.

Unsurprisingly, given its foul taste, my brothers and I loathed castor oil. Sometimes the very prospect of having to gulp down half a cup of it, undiluted, made us throw up. Yet it was an ordeal to which we were subjected willy-nilly twice a year, dad’s faith in the laxative being unshakeable.

On a Saturday morning, we would reluctantly queue up before dad, our faces eloquently mirroring our disgust. Often we would jockey to be the last in line, hoping his stock of castor oil would run out. Then, as he poured out a generous measure of the yellow concoction, our domestic help Hassan would pinion our hands behind us, one by one, so that we couldn’t knock the cup out of dad’s hand. And down the hatch the ‘slime’ would be forced as one writhed helplessly, making the wryest of faces that would have been a cartoonist’s delight! Anyone spitting out or throwing up the horrible potion would be promptly given another dose. And, what was worse, no sweets were permitted to neutralise the nauseating taste.

Predictably, about two hours later, our stomachs would begin to churn and rumble, audibly and ominously, signalling that the purgative was at work. And it did! Of course, we did try to somehow wriggle out of the ordeal — feigning a splitting headache, acute stomach pain or even giddiness. But dad shrewdly saw through all our ruses — apparently, he himself had resorted to these as a boy! Once, we even conspired to pool our paltry pocket-money and bribe the shopkeeper down the road into not stocking castor oil. However, the plan was never implemented for fear of dad’s punitive cane.

Once, as D-Day approached, in sheer desperation, we concealed the bottle of castor oil within the folds of dad’s umbrella, confident that he would never look for it there. However, my youngest brother spilled the beans after wresting an assurance from dad that he would be given only half the normal dose of oil.

Quite understandably, few sing the praises of castor oil now — I’m sure youngsters today wouldn’t touch it even with a bargepole. Yet, repulsive though it was, the fact remains that it was indeed an effective purgative that did revive our flagging appetites. No wonder dad swore by its efficacy and administered it dictatorially!

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How Two Dads Are Disrupting Medicine

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When longtime friends David Johnson and Max Spielberg were talking about what Spielberg was taking for his allergies, and the medicine they were giving their children to fight fevers and the common cold, the two dads decided to take a closer look at what was actually in those over-the counter (OTC) products. 

“I’m your nuts and seeds type of guy who never really took many medications growing up,” Johnson says. “When we turn to the over-the-counter shelf, we should be taking a product that makes us feel better, and helps us get better, but doesn’t have the excess ingredients that are unnecessary.”

With Johnson’s finance background and Spielberg’s legal background, the two set out to clean up every medicine aisle. They spent two years in research and development with a team of doctors and scientists before launching their medicine business Genexa.

“What we do is make over-the-counter medicines with the same active ingredient that you need, but without the inactive ingredients that you don’t,” Spielberg says. “We’ll create a product containing acetaminophen, which is used to treat pain and fever, and instead of using talc, which has been linked to serious health consequences, or red dyes, which have been associated with lots of side effects, we’ll use beetroot extract and organic honey to hold the medicine together.”

Genexa manufactures conventional medicines for both children and adults as well as homeopathic products. The co-founders say they credit their explosive growth to knocking on doors and building relationships with retailers. Today, they are in more than 40,000 stores including Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Kroger, and Whole Foods. They also sell their products online on and Amazon. Johnson and Spielberg spoke with Jessica Abo abour revolutionizing the OTC space and shared their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Jessica Abo: What is Genexa at its core?

Max Spielberg: Genexa’s an over-the-counter medicine brand that’s dedicated to making clean medicines. We like to call it real medicine made clean. So what we do is we’ll take a product, basically just like the leading brand of medicine that you can find in your medicine cabinet, and we’ll use the same active ingredients. We’ll use the same medicine, but all the other ingredients will be clean and organic.

David Johnson: Every medicine has an inactive and an active ingredient. So we focus on the inactive ingredients, which is the part that makes up the majority of all medicines on shelf. And the active ingredient is the ingredient that you’re taking it for, and why we take the medicine. So, when you look at the inactive ingredients that compose usually 70-to-95 percent of these products, we remove those and replace them with better, few, cleaner ingredients. A good example of that would be, we remove a red dye and replace it with an organic beetroot extract that would dye the tablet red or the liquid red.

What made you both want to leave your day jobs and start this

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Taking Care Of Newborns Can Do Wonders To Dads’ Mental Health, Study Finds


  • Fathers play an important role in their baby’s lives
  • Caring for their babies also benefit their mental health
  • Dads who are involved in caring for newborns are happier in the long run

The working world recognizes the role of mothers in taking care of their newborn babies, which is why they enjoy paid parental leave. However, a recent study shows that fathers may need it as much as mothers do as dads’ involvement in baby’s development proves beneficial for the entire family. 

A study published in the Frontiers of Psychiatry entitled, “Father Involvement in Infant Parenting in an Ethnically Diverse Community Sample: Predicting Paternal Depressive Symptoms,” showed that early paternal involvement in caring for the infant benefits both the child and the mother, and possibly for the mental health of the fathers. 

The researchers interviewed 881 low-income and racially-diverse fathers. They found three factors, which predicted why a number of fathers during the first year of their child showed lower rates of depression, or simply put, were happier. These three factors include the time that they spent with their newborns, whether they were able to do basic infant care routines like feeding newborns and changing their diapers, and of course, if they were able to provide material support to their babies. Fathers who were able to do all these three were found to be happier on the overall.

Dr. Olajide Bamishigbin, Jr., lead author of the study and California State University’s assistant professor of psychology, said that more involvement of fathers with their babies eventually improves the life of the entire family. The mental health of fathers who were involved with caring for their infants in the early stages of life was far better in the long run.

Father and baby Father and baby Photo: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

Bamishigbin and the team used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a tool used to identify postpartum depression in women, to also assess the depression symptoms of fathers. The period of assessment was done at three intervals during the first year after birth, particularly the first month, the sixth month, and lastly, in the 12th month.

The researchers noted that fathers who were able to spend more time with their babies showed better parenting self-efficacy. They also provided more support in terms of the material needs of the baby. When the child reached a year old, these fathers also had lower depressive symptoms. 

On the overall, the study suggests that the involvement of fathers is an important predictor of their mental health. The researchers noted that paternal presence a month after birth plays an important role in the father’s mental help even if the father was not living with nor married to the mother of the baby. They hope that their study could help move the needle on paid parental leave.

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