Henna is a middle sized shrub with small white or pinkish fragrant flowers in large terminal bunches and small round fruits. It has many branches. The leaves contain a glucoside coloring matter and hennotanic acid. On petroleum ether extraction, the seeds of the plant yield a viscous oil containing behenic, arachidic, stearic, palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids.
Botanical Name: Lawsonia Inermis
Indian Name: Mehndi
Below are some of the medicinal properties of henna:
- Henna helps in the treatment of baldness. Mustard oil boiled with henna leaves, promotes healthy growth of hair. Two hundred and fifty grams of mustard oil is boiled in a tin basin. Sixty grams of the leaves are gradually added to the oil and heated. The oil is then filtered through a cloth and stored in a bottle. Regular massage with this oil produces abundant hair.
- The seeds of the henna plant are beneficial in the treatment of dysentery. They are powdered, mixed with ghee and made into small balls of the size of a betel nut. It is also very helpful in this condition, when taken with water.
- The bark of the plant is useful in the treatment of liver disorders like jaundice and enlargement of the liver. Either its powder is used in 1.25 to 5 decigram doses or its decoction in 30 to 60 grams doses in the treatment of these disorders.
- Henna flower cures headaches caused by the heat of the sun. The headache is relieved by a plaster made of henna flower in vinegar and applied over the forehead.
- A decoction of the henna leaves can be used as gargle in case of sore throat.
- Henna leaves are effective in the treatment of prickly heat. The leaves ground with water are applied over the affected area.
- Pessaries or vaginal suppositories made of the leaves and seeds can be used in the treatment of excessive menstruation, vaginal discharges and leucorrhea or excessive white discharge.
- A paste of the leaves is applied on the soles relieves in this condition.
- Henna leaves are useful in the treatment of skin problems like boils and burns. They are locally applied on the affected area. Bruised leaves can be applied beneficially in rheumatic joints, inflammatory swellings, bruises and leprosy.
Henna is mainly used as a coloring agent. It is mixed with other natural dyes and is largely used as hair dye and even for textiles. The oil obtained from its flowers is used in perfumery.