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Unusual Uses, Home Remedies, and Benefits of Henna or Mehndi

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

About Henna or Mehndi

Latin Name: Lawsonia inermis.

In India, Henna is called Mehndi. It is also called Hina.

Henna is a small flowering shrub or tree that is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Southern Asia, Africa and Northern Australasia.

Use of henna has been recorded since the Bronze Age, and it has also been used in ancient India, Rome, Spain, Syria and Egypt. Henna has a long history of use that extends almost 6000 years.

Henna has a cooling effect on the body and also dyes the hair and skin from a pale orange to a reddish-brown colour. When henna leaves are crushed, a red-orange pigment known as lawsone is released, which dyes the hair and skin. Lawsone has an affinity for bonding with protein in hair and skin.

Adding essential oils like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil or lavender oil will help henna stain better.

Henna has traditionally been used in festivals and celebrations in many parts of the world and in India since olden times, to tattoo the hands, feet, arms and legs especially during marriages and festivals.

Muslims have used henna to dye their hair and beard as a tradition since the times of Prophet Muhammed, who enjoined Muslim womenfolk to dye their nails with henna.

Henna is safe to use in pregnant and nursing women, during chemotherapy and radiation. However, ensure that you use pure henna.

In spite of the many benefits of henna, the FDA has approved its use only on the hair and not on the skin, as according to FDA, other ingredients are added to pure henna to make it produce a product that gives a darker and longer-lasting colour. This product called black henna is not actually henna, and it is harmful to your health due to the chemical PPD that is toxic and potentially carcinogenic.

Uses of Henna

Henna has been used in hair dyes, cosmetic products, hair products and for making temporary tattoos.

It is used to preserve cloth and leather. Since ancient times, henna has been used to dye wool, silk as well as leather.

Henna also repels some insects and mildew. Place henna flowers between folds of woollen cloth to keep moths away.

Henna flowers are used to make perfume.

It is a wonderful conditioner for hair, makes it thick, shiny and more manageable. It restores the natural acid-alkaline balance of the scalp. Being a natural cleanser it does not alter the chemical structure of the hair.

Health Benefits of Henna

Henna has laxative, expectorant, diuretic, tonic, anthelmintic, antitoxic, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties.

It promotes hair growth, relieves bronchitis, asthma, Traditionally henna has been used to treat burns blisters and other skin conditions, headache and migraine, jaundice, amoebic dysentery, stomach and intestinal ulcers, enlarged spleen and even cancer. Henna acts as a good sunscreen. It is also applied to treat dandruff, fungal infections, eczema and wounds, etc.

Some Natural Remedies With Henna or Mehndi

  • Mouth Ulcers: Soak 50 grams henna powder in 500 ml water. Strain and swish this water around in the mouth for relief. Alternately, some leaves of henna can also be chewed.
  • Boils: Boil some henna powder in water and wash the boils with this water.
  • Burning of the soles of the feet: Apply henna on the soles.
  • Gum Disease: Boil henna leaves in water. Strain and swish this water around in the mouth.
  • Cracks, Cuts, Wounds, Injuries: Apply the henna paste on the affected area.
  • Dyeing Hair: Take 50 grams henna powder, 1/2 tsp coffee powder and 25 grams amla powder. Mix these in milk and apply on the head. This will give a golden colour to the hair.
  • Prickly Heat: Apply the henna paste on area of the back, neck etc affected by prickly heat. It relieves burning and itching immediately.
  • Cooling The Body/Relieving Body Heat: Apply the henna paste on the palms and soles. It benefits those with high blood pressure. Henna relieves body heat, induces a feeling of coolness, keeps the mind and head cool and calm.
  • Fatigue: Sportsmen can benefit from an application of henna paste on the soles of the feet to get relief from fatigue and keep the body cool as well.
  • Baldness: Mix henna in mustard oil and apply.

Some More Natural Remedies With Henna

Henna treats warts, herpes, relieves pains. acts like a sedative,

The juice of the leaves is good for treating hydrophobia.

Extract of the herb is good to treat epilepsy and neuropathy.

Henna oil can be used to treat leprosy, headaches, skin disorders, arthritic and rheumatic pains.

Mix henna flowers with warm wax and rose oil to relieve pain.

Apply henna paste to fingernails to make them strong.

About Black Henna or Kali Mehndi

The black henna that is available in the market is not natural henna. It is obtained from the indigo plant and also contains the chemical paraphenylenediamine or PPD. Sometimes these are added to henna to produce black henna.

Black henna is extremely dangerous to health since it is a transdermal toxin and a potential carcinogen apart from the fact that it causes allergy in many of those who use black henna.

Getting a black henna tattoo makes the hair sensitive to hair dyes and other chemicals and if a person has had a black henna tattoo and follows it up later with a chemical hair dye, it could even cause a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Some Precautions With Henna Use

  • Henna is safe normally when used externally on hair and skin. Allergic reactions like inflammation of the skin and respiratory problems are rare if pure henna is used.
  • It is considered unsafe for oral consumption.
  • Henna reacts with Lithium and slows down its excretion. If you are taking lithium supplementation please note.
  • Do not use henna in children under 12 years and those with glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency as it can cause bursting of the red blood cells even when applied on the skin.
  • Pregnant women should not take it orally as it might lead to miscarriage. Nursing mothers should also avoid it.

Ali, B. H., A. K. Bashir, et al. (1995). Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and analgesic effects of lawsonia inermisL. (henna) in rats. Pharmacology Basel 51(6): 356-363. {a} P.O. Box 17777, Al Ain, United Arab, United Arab Emirates.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly


Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 22, 2019:

I'm happy you like the article, Peggy. Thank you.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 21, 2019:

Thanks for enlightening me and others about the many uses of henna and the precautions to also take if considering using it. I always learn something new by reading your posts.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 03, 2013:

Thanks for your visit and input Marlene.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on October 02, 2013:

I like henna! I use the red henna as a hair dye. The interesting thing about the red henna is that it is absorbed by the grey hairs, giving the grey hairs a nice red tint. Overall, it leaves my hair with a nicely blended highlight effect.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 28, 2013:

@skin-care-natural-glad you like the info. Thanks!

@Ritesh-Thanks for reading and appreciating.

Ritesh Nishar on August 27, 2013:

Hey rajan its good piece of info. I discovered many more uses of Henna powder from your hub. The only uses I knew were hair dyeing and mehndi in your hand during marriages. I'll follow you for more such great stuffs. Voting it up for sure. Once again great hub!

Clara Myers from USA, East Coast on August 26, 2013:

I always thought my hair dye looked a lot like henna. Very informational!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 28, 2013:

Glad you like it, Pinkchic. Thanks.

Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on February 28, 2013:

I really didn't know too much about henna before this. Thanks for sharing!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 27, 2013:

Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Devika.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 27, 2013:

I have used Henna powder as hair dye, and had good results in keeping my hair healthy and shiny too. You have shared more about Henna powder which I didn't know of thanks

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 26, 2013:

@ Brett - thanks for the feedback and sharing.

@ Deergha - thanks for sharing and I'm glad you like the info.

@ Bake Like a Pro - thanks for reading and sharing.

Bake Like a Pro on February 26, 2013:

What a detailed and informative article you wrote rajan. I had heard a lot about henna but have never personally used it. Now I am inspired to try it on my hair. I am voting up and sharing.

deergha from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!! on February 25, 2013:

Hello Rajan,

Very informative and useful hub. Its always a delight to read your health related hubs here. Many new things about henna i could know from this hub. Thanks for sharing and I am sharing too. Votes all up way.

Brett C from Asia on February 25, 2013:

This was interesting, I had no idea henna could be used this way. Previously I had only heard of Henna Tattoos.

Shared, tweeted, up and interesting.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 25, 2013:

@ Eddy - Glad you like these healthy foods' hubs. Appreciate the support.

@Suzie - I wonder if you can get mehndi applied on the hands in Dublin or Ireland? Interesting to know you've used it for the hair. Thanks for stopping by.

@ Audrey - Henna does make the hair silky soft and it is very good for uncurling the hair. Thanks for visiting.

Audrey Howitt from California on February 25, 2013:

I love henna--and have used it on my hair ---it is a wonderful conditioner!

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on February 25, 2013:

Hi rajan,

This is such an interesting hub about henna. So many things I did not know about. Your research as ever is excellent and thorough on this. I have used it in hair products and have always fancied getting mehndi done, they look stunning and the detail in them is exceptional. Great job rajan, Voted up, Useful, Awesome, Interesting, Shared on.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 25, 2013:

Another great hub rajan .I love this series so keep them coming.


Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 24, 2013:

Thanks Carol. Appreciate the votes and sharing.

carol stanley from Arizona on February 24, 2013:

I never knew you could ingest henna. this was so interesting. I just thought it was an addition to dying hair.. So we learn again from you. Great hub..Voting up and sharing.