Medicinal plants

Henna – Application & Treatment for Health


Henna has been used to color skin and hair for thousands of years. In women, red-dyeing henna is used particularly often for body decoration. Hair, toes, fingers, the soles of the hands and the soles of the feet were already decorated with henna in ancient Egypt, as grave finds show.

Occurrence & Cultivation of Henna

Henna , Latin Lawsonia inermis L. , belongs to the loosestrife family . The henna plant is a shrub that reaches a height of two to six meters. It drives out small flowers that are white or pink in color. These are dried and pulverized and used in a wide variety of areas. It is not known where the henna tree originated. Henna is native to India and the Orient. The active ingredient, the dried flowers, is imported from Egypt and India.

The henna plant belongs to the loosestrife family. The plant is a shrub and grows between 2 and 6 meters high. The small white or pink flowers are dried and made into powder. This powder is used in many areas. Exactly where the henna tree came from remains unknown. Henna used to be known under the name Real Alkanna . There are also the following other names : mouthwood , Egyptian dye bush or Egyptian dye herb .

Effect & Application

In the African, oriental and Indian areas, the patterns of skin painting are very different. In India, henna painting focuses on fine lines and delicate patterns that almost completely cover the feet, wrists and hands. Arab women prefer very large, eye-catching floral patterns and in North Africa, geometric patterns are very popular. The technique of applying henna paintings to the skin developed over thousands of years.

In one technique, the pattern is applied using a stick and a mixture of ash and the sap of Euphoria peplus. Once the mixture is dry, the patterns are reinforced and traced using henna paste. After that, the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands are painted with henna, painting the joints of the toes and fingers with a red dot. The color is obtained from the dried and powdered leaves of henna plants. Lukewarm water is whisked into a paste and then applied to the skin. A red hue remains on the skin after several hours. Shades of color from various red tones to a very dark purple can be achieved – depending on how long the paste has been absorbed and how often it has been applied.

Then the color has to stay on the skin for a few hours before it is absorbed into the skin and can be removed. The painting stays in its full color for about a month and after about two months the color is completely gone again. Henna is also used as a hair dye , it colors the hair permanently. The powder is mixed with boiling water and then stirred into a paste. The finished mass has a very unique smell. In order for the color to stay in the hair for a long time, this mixture must be absorbed for up to three hours.

Importance for health, treatment & prevention

Henna tattoos in particular have a very high allergenic risk due to the potential component of PPD. Because if a tattoo is applied to the skin and left there for a while, the substance can become lodged in the skin. This can cause swelling , painful reddening of the skin or itching . Most of the time, these skin reactions develop within two to ten days. There are even open wounds, which then heal only very slowly.

As a result, scars can remain, color disorders or skin sensitivity to light. Once affected, people are sensitized to PPD for the rest of their lives. The problem is that this artificial color is found in a wide variety of products. And if you are allergic to PPD or its breakdown products, then you probably have to do without a lot of hair coloring products.

It can also happen that those affected have to avoid handling dark textiles and various plastics. It can also happen that the allergy spreads to other chemical substances. The quality of life of those affected is then significantly more restricted and psychological damage often remains. This skin damage caused by fun on a summer vacation is very often a burden.

The henna plant has significantly more areas of application. For example, in case of nervousness , a composition from the henna plant with bark extracts is used. The powdered seed is taken to stimulate cell formation. In addition, a paste is obtained from henna, which reduces sweat production . This paste is applied to the hands and feet, cooling the entire body.

Henna is not only used as a dye on the head, it is also effective against scalp problems such as dandruff and hair loss . It also protects against dangerous UV rays. The brew filtered from the leaves of the shrub has a healing effect against stomach pains , rheumatism and colds .

Women use this very often after giving birth to regulate their cycle more quickly. However, it should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, the same applies to children.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.