In early 1971,I was impressed by a chance observation suggesting that berberine—an alkaloid from the Indian medicinal plant Berberis aristata—may be an effective antigiardial drug.1 To test this hypothesis, a clinical trial in pediatric patients was started at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, where we had already been engaged in investigating various aspects of giardiasis. The study was later continued at the H. P. Medical College, Simla.
Salient features of the group-comparative trial are summarized in the Table. Patients ranged in age from 5 months to 14 years, with a mean age of 5 years. Approximately 10% of patients in each of the subgroups did not complete the study.
The data suggest that berberine, administered orally in a dose of 10 mg/kg/day for ten days, resulted in satisfactory parasitological cure, comparable to that obtained with other established antigiardial drugs (quinacrine hydrochloride, furazolidone, and metronidazole). It