HennaBotanical Name: Lawsonia alba (LANK.), Lawsonia inermis
Family: N.O. Lythraceae
Synonyms: Henne. Al-Khanna. Al-henna. Jamaica Mignonette. Mehndi. Mendee. Egyptian Privet. Smooth Lawsonia.
Parts Used: Flowers, powdered leaves, fruit.
Habitat: Egypt, India, Kurdistan, Levant, Persia, Syria.
Description: The small, white and yellow, heavy, sweet-smelling flowers are borne on dwarf shrubs 8 to 10 feet high. A distilled water prepared from them is used as a cosmetic, and the powdered leaves have been in use from the most ancient times in Eastern countries for dyeing the hair and the nails a reddish-yellow.
Since 1890 it has been widely used in Europe for tinting the hair, usually in the form of a shampoo, many shades being obtainable by mixing with the leaves of other plants, such as indigo. As a dye for the skin or nails the powder may be mixed with catechu or lucerne, made into a paste with hot water, and spread on the part to be dyed, being allowed to remain for one night.
Constituents: There has been found in it a brown substance of a resinoid fracture, having the chemical properties which characterize the tannins, and therefore named hennotannic acid.
Medicinal Action and Uses: It has been employed both internally and locally in jaundice, leprosy, smallpox, and affections of the skin. The fruit is thought to have emmenagogue properties.
The Egyptians are said to have prepared both an oil and an ointment from the flowers for making the limbs supple.