Henna, Lawsona inermis, is a small tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. It is best known for its
dyeing ability on skin, hair, nails, cloth, leather, etc.
Used for thousands of years, henna has been mentioned in the Bible, specifically the Song of Solomon. Other literature that has mentioned henna is the Ugaritic myth of Baal, which is thousands of
This historical plant is rich in culture from its use in weddings, funerals, rites of passage and more. However, little has been said about henna's healing properties.
Henna's Healing Properties
Henna has been used as a healing herb in folk medicine for as long as it was used as a dye.
One of the major health benefits of henna is as a sun screen. During the summer, hundreds of people are tattooed with henna paste at fairs, festivals, traditional celebrations and more. Whilst out in
the sun, they also tan only to find, five weeks later than the area hennaed did not tan not does it show any sun-contact at all. Henna paste is a natural mixture of, usually, water, henna, lemon
juice and sugar, which is a natural and healthier alternative to chemical laden sun screens plus it has the unique ability to temporarily tattoo skin.
Another major benefit of henna is its ability to condition and rejuvenate hair and nails naturally. When dyeing hair and nails with henna paste, the tanins and other Lawsona molecules bind with the
keratin in the hair and nail. Henna is known to strengthen hair and nails, prevent fungus in the nail beds, and heal split ends and cracked cuticles.
Many other conditions henna is used to treat include:
Baldness - when mixed with mustard seed oil, henna is reputed to cure baldness.
Dysentery - when mixed with ghee
Liver disorders - specifically the bark of the henna plant
Headaches - specifically the flowers of the plant mixed with vinegar
Sore throat - specifically the leaves as a gargle
Boils, burns and bruises - specifically a poultice of the leaves
Arthritis, Inflammation and leprosy - specifically the leaves, bruised
When Not to Use Henna
Henna is considered safe to use on pregnant women, women who are nursing, men and women undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, and children who are 12 years of age or older. However, henna is
sometimes polluted with dying agents and chemicals, so always be certain to buy from a certified company or one with a high reputation.
Another exception is using henna on young children and those people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Those with from G-6-PD can suffer haemylotic crisis when henna is applied,
especially children. Henna on children with G-6-PD can cause sever anemia and death. It is best not to apply henna on children, due to the variable of whether or not they have this deficiency.
One of the best resources for henna is The Henna Page created by Catherine Cartwright-Jones, a leader in henna studies with a focus on both the historical and the scientific. The website includes
free articles on henna, henna how-tos and reviews on henna and henna products.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any
reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.