The healing benefits of Henna

“Nature itself is the greatest physician.” —Hippocrates

The art of henna has become increasingly popular in Western culture during the last few decades; being used primarily as a natural hair dye or a trendy ornamental form of hand and foot art. It is one of the most well known botanicals on earth, yet it is also quite possibly the least underutilized for it's many healing properties. 

HENNA | Mehndi

Botanical Name: Lawsonia Inermis

Part Used: Leaves, bark, flowers

Energetics: bitter, astringent, cooling | Pacifies Pitta and Kapha, may aggravate Vata (in excess) 

Actions: Antipyretic (fever reducing), alterative (gradually restores proper function of the body), nervine (calms the nervous system)

Henna, or Mehndi, is an evergreen plant. A member of the Loosestrife family, henna originally comes from Egypt, a country that is still one of the main suppliers of the plant. The henna plant typically grows in the drier climates of India, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. 

The red-ish brown dye is made by crushing the dried leaves and then mixing the fine powder with other natural and acidic ingredients such as eucalyptus oil, lemon juice, or black tea. 

Helpful hint: Henna that is black in color can be dangerous and should not be used. The dark color implies that the henna plant was mixed with chemical compounds to give it that color. Also, hair dyes that claim to be henna-based occasionally contain other chemicals that can be harmful or cause allergic reactions for those who have sensitive skin, so read your labels carefully!

Leaves of Henna

Leaves of Henna

Flowers of Henna

Flowers of Henna

Most people associate henna with India as it remains an integral part of the Indian wedding tradition for the bride to have her hands, arms and feet covered in elaborate designs. Though it's history and usage span all around the Middle East. It's oldest reported use dates back to 1200 BC, where it was utilized in Egypt to dye the hair and nails of pharaohs, and also during the mummification process. It was even said that Cleopatra herself used henna to adorn her body.

Perhaps Henna's most well observed quality is it's natural cooling effect, which offers a delightful tingling sensation to the skin (similar to chewing spearmint gum and drinking cold water). Once this property was discovered, people of the desert, used henna to cool down their bodies. By making a henna paste and smearing it on themselves, they achieved an air conditioning effect. The sensation is felt throughout the body for as long as the henna stain remains on their skin. It didn't take long before the desert people turned the henna smears into works of art. Thus the mehndi tradition was birthed.

For centuries, mehndi—the art of henna painting on the body—has been believed to bring love, good fortune, prosperity, and protect the wearer against evil. 

b622965d49302b38d1b88781095a3de9.jpg

10 healing benefits of Henna: 

1.  Relief from headaches

Henna flowers cure headaches caused by the heat of the sun. A plaster made of Henna flowers soaked in vinegar and applied over forehead relieves the headaches.

2. Eases arthritis pain

When henna is used on the hands, it helps to relax the body via the cooling effect it has on the nerves, thus reducing inflammation caused by arthritis symptoms.

2. Treats a variety of skin conditions 

Traditional medicinal uses for henna include being used as a coagulant for open wounds and a poultice to sooth burns and eczema. Fresh leaves may be used as a topical antiseptic for fungal or bacterial skin infections, including ringworm.

3. Promotes healthy hair

Henna helps to improve hair health. It helps seal the hair cuticle, preventing breaking, and increasing the shine and appearance of the hair. It is also a natural treatment for dandruff.

4. Draws out fever

Henna leaves rolled into a ball with water, placed in the hand will help bring temperature down.

5. Promotes healthy gums

Chewing on henna leaves is said to reduce the risk of gum disease and treat mouth ulcers.

6. Reduces Pitta in the mind

The essential oil that is derived from Henna, also knows as Hina, is used in India for religious ceremonies and prayer (Devotion). It is great for opening our psychic abilities, clairvoyancy, and reducing anger and irritability.

7. Natural treatment for diaper rash

Sprinkle a little bit of henna powder on the inflamed area to reduce heat and irritation.

8. A cure for dysentery 

Henna seeds can treat dysentery. Crush the henna seeds and mix it with ghee. Make small balls of the mix and swallow it with water to cure dysentery.

9. A powerful detoxifier

By soaking the bark or leaves of the henna plant in water and then consuming the liquid has been connected to improved spleen and liver health.

10. Regulates blood pressure

One of the most undervalued effects of henna is it's use for heart health. If you consume henna water or seeds, you can enjoy a hypotensive effect that relieves stress on the cardiovascular system and effectively lowers blood pressure. This can help prevent the plaque and platelet build-up in the heart and arteries, preventing heart attacks and strokes.

The best medicine is often that which the earth gives to us. Henna is the perfect hidden gem cherished through the eastern culture and making its way to the west.