Lawsonia inermis, also known as hina, the henna tree, the mignonette tree, and the Egyptian privet, is a flowering plant and one of the only two species of the genus Lawsonia, with the other being Lawsonia odorata.
The henna plant is native to northern Africa, Asia and northern Australia, in semi-arid zones and tropical areas. The leaves are the source of a reddish-brown dye, known as henna, which is commonly used for temporary body art and to dye fabrics.
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1.8 - 7.6 m (6 - 25 ft.)
4.3 – 8.0
Varieties of Henna
Natural Henna/ Red henna
This is the real form of henna which leaves a reddish-orange stain on the hair and body. This is pure henna and is green in color. It is used to make a paste by adding natural oils and water into it. Red henna leaves the hair strong and lustrous.
Black henna is a black henna dye that consists of Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) and is very unsafe to use on the skin. It stains black in no time. It is being widely used for dying hair and body art. But the adulteration of chemicals can be harmful to the skin and hair.
Planting Henna Plants
Purchase the seeds from the local nursery or the seed supplier. Whether you are growing it outdoors or indoors, first sow seeds in a small pot, then transplant later. To maximize the chances of germination, you should pre-soak the seeds in water for 7-10 days. Keep changing the water every 2 days. Then, fill the pot with the cactus mix, leaving some room at the top surface. Sow seeds at the depth of two times the diameter of the seed. Mist it lightly and keep it in the direct sunlight. After 3-4 months, you can transplant the seedling in your garden.
From Stem Cutting
Snip off a healthy stem from the node section of the Maruthani plant. Cut it at a 45-degree angle. Remove the leaves from the cutting except a few at one end. Dip the cut section of the stem in rooting hormone. Insert this stem in the soil a few inches deeper, with leaves above the soil surface. Mist it lightly and keep in the full sun.
Growing Henna Plants
Since maruthani or henna is known for its drought-tolerant nature, it does not prefer consistently moist soil. Water it only when it is dry. In the case of this plant, less watering is fine. Overwatering causes root rot and invites aphides. Also, place a tray beneath the pot so as to discard the water collected in it while watering.
The plant prefers full sunlight nurturing for 6-7 hours. So, choose a sunny location in your yard, with no shade. If growing indoors, prefer a sunny window of south or west facing.
Henna plant prefers sandy loamy, well-draining soil with a pH of around 5-8. Amend the soil with sand to increase its draining capability. You can also mix some organic matter like garden manure, or cow dung to enhance fertility. For pots, prefer a soil mix available for succulent and cactus.
The average temperature for growing henna should be around 19-25°C (66-77° F). But, it should not fall below 10°C (50° F), as it does not perform well in cold weather.
Spring to summer is the best season to sow its seeds or for planting stem cutting. The germination may take up to 3-8 weeks. Always sow the seeds or plant the stem in pots at first. Transplant the plant during the monsoon season from July to August.
Care for Henna Plants
Trimming allows the plant to become bushier rather than growing as a miniature tree. The bushier plant tends to have more leaves in the branches, hence acts as a screening hedge.
During spring, the soil should be supplemented with a 1-2-1, water-soluble fertilizer at half strength or as per the instructions at the label. Fertilizer aids in encouraging more leaves growth. Moreover, to add fertility compost manure, compost tea or cow dung manure can also be used.
Pests and Diseases
Henna plant is susceptible to aphids and other insects. To combat this, a spray of neem oil solution or water and soap solution mix can be effective. Also, if scales are infecting your plant, remove the infected branch, and stem immediately.
Henna for Hair
Henna is a natural permanent dye that is widely used throughout the world for its color and amazing benefits to the hair. Henna hair coloring dates back thousands of years and has been used by both men and women to dye their hair, beards, mustaches and even the hair of animals. It is a fast growing trend in the natural hair industry because it is a healthy alternative to the toxic chemical dyes found in the market. Henna does the opposite for the scalp and hair that synthetic dyes do. It actually makes the hair stronger, shinier, healthier and rejuvenates dry, dull and damaged hair. The more it is applied the better it is for the hair. Synthetic dyes, on the other hand, may not only damage the hair but also ones health. Another fun fact about henna is that those who are sensitive to synthetic hair dyes can often benefit from henna hair dye.
Benefits of Henna for Hair
It colors the hair an orange to rich red color and mixed with other herbs it can give you many other color variations from light red blonde to black.
It strengthens the hair and helps prevent breakage and split ends
It helps prevent hair fall and thinning of the hair
It makes the hair shiny and lustrous
It conditions the hair
It's anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties keep the lice out and help prevent fungal diseases in the scalp
It rejuvenates dry, dull and damaged hair by closing and smoothing the cuticle
It is often used by people with sensitive skin and cancer patients because of its gentle properties.
It often softens the hair. The hair might feel straw-like if used over bleached hair because the extra coating of the henna can make the hair stiffer after bleaching. The grow-out, however, will feel very soft.
Disadvantages of henna
Not everything natural suits everyone so henna may not be for everyone. It is best to do a strand test and a patch test and consult a physician before using.
Henna is a permanent hair dye. It doesn't come out of the hair so the hair has to grow out for the color to be removed. It will thus fade so the color will be lighter through time.
Henna on its own is a reddish-orange dye so it will color the hair red unless used with other herbs, such as indigo and amla.
It may be difficult to use a synthetic dye over henna depending on the chemicals in the dye. So once you have the color, you might have to wait for it to grow out before using other colors. The natural herbal hair colors that we sell, however, can be used over henna any time without harm to the hair.
Health Benefits of Henna Plants
Though the antioxidant capacity of henna has not been widely researched, the oil has been proven to be an astringent, which has led many people to use its juice and oil on the skin to reduce the signs of aging and wrinkles, as well as the unattractive appearance of scars and other blemishes. This is complemented by the antiviral and antibacterial effects that can protect the body’s largest organ, skin.
Improved Nail Quality
People often forget about maintaining healthy nails, but the cuticles and space under the nails are prime sites for infection and bacterial presence. Therefore, treating your nails with henna is considered a wise choice. Drinking the water in which leaves have been soaked helps prevent nails from cracking and reduce inflammation. Applying a poultice directly to the nail beds can clear up irritation, pain, and infection in the nail beds.
Henna is considered quite beneficial for protecting the skin against infections and eliminating inflammation. It has been applied to burns, wounds, and scrapes for generations, not only because it can add a protective layer against foreign pathogens and substances, but also because it has natural cooling abilities that accurately suck the heat from the skin. This makes it very useful for sunburns, in a similar capacity as aloe vera gel.
According to the ayurvedic traditions henna also helps to bring down fevers. When people are suffering from very high fevers as a secondary symptom of another condition that rise in temperature throughout the body can be dangerous for organ function and metabolic processes. Bringing the overall temperature of the body down is vital, and henna can achieve this by either inducing sweating and effectively breaking the fever, or simply cooling the body and providing some relief.
Reduced Sleep Issues
Henna oil has been directly related to alleviating certain sleep disorders, so if you are suffering from insomnia or chronic restlessness, adding a bit of this oil to your herbal routine can get you back into a regular, restful schedule of sleep by calming the body and mind, easing it into a relaxed state before sleep.
Although most people associate henna’s effect on the hair to dying its color, it actually plays a number of roles in that part of our body too. Henna has been proven to increase the strength of the hair and, hence, represents a safe dye that doesn’t permanently affect the health of our follicles.
Consuming the consequent liquid obtained by soaking the bark or leaves of the henna plant in water has been associated to improved spleen and liver health. The liver works as a crucial level of protection for the body and helps to remove the toxins that accumulate in the body. By optimizing its function and ensuring its health, you can avoid a wide range of other health conditions.
Juice of the henna plant is not always praised as being particularly beneficial, but in fact, the juice of the plant can be directly applied to the skin for fast relief from headaches. The anti-inflammatory effects of the compounds found in henna help it reduce that tension and promote healthy blood flow in the capillaries, which is a common cause of headaches and migraines.
Henna oil can be used topically for arthritic and rheumatic pains. As we age, our joints become more painful as cartilage and muscles worsen. This can result in painful inflammation in many different parts of the body. By applying hina oil to the inflamed or affected areas, you can guarantee a healthier and broader range of motion to maintain an active and happy life.
Regulated Blood Pressure
If you consume henna water or seeds, you can enjoy a hypotensive effect that relieves stress on the cardiovascular system and efficiently lowers blood pressure. This can help prevent the plaque and platelet build-up in the heart and arteries, avoiding heart attacks and strokes.
Henna oil is considered beneficial for rheumatic and arthritic pains. Ground leaves are applied to sore flints to ease rheumatism. Juice of the medicinal plant can be applied to the skin for headaches, and the henna oil is applied to hair to prevent it from graying.
Bark of the plant is very effective in the treatment of dysentery. Seeds are powdered, mixed with ghee and rolled into small balls and then taken with water.
Using mustard oil boiled with Henna leaves encourages healthy hair growth. 250 grams of mustard oil is boiled in a pan. Some 50 to 60 grams of Henna leaves are added gradually 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.
Bark is used as an emenagogue in French Guiana.
Javans make a poultice from the leaf and apply it to cracks between the toes.
Water infusion of the leaves mixed with tobacco and salt is used for a mouthwash in Surinam.
Leaf cooked in water and used for washing wounds.
It is used to treat wounds, dartre, and possibly leprosy in French Guiana.
It has been used both internally and locally in jaundice, leprosy, smallpox, and affections of the skin.
Fruit is supposed to have emenagogue properties.
Egyptians are said to have prepared both oil and an ointment from the flowers for making the limbs supple.
It is beneficial in keeping the Scalp free from Infection and Dandruff.
It increases strength and shine to the Hair thus, makes it Frizz free.
It boosts Hair growth and suppresses hair fall, sweating and hair thinning.
It is a natural source of nourishment and avoids baldness.
Its flowers counter Headaches which are a result of Sunstroke.
It fights Epilepsy.
It cures dental ailments like Scurvy i.e. bleeding of gums and oral ulcers.
Gargles done using Henna leaves are advantageous in curing throat infections.
Henna is a good herbal remedy for the treatment of nervous disorders namely leprosy and tetanus i.e. lockjaw.
It is utilized for curing bronchitis and cough, which may cause breathing discomfort.
It keeps tuberculosis at bay.
It alleviates the troubles associated to blood circulation.
It is beneficial in combating Skin problems like Eczema, Burns, Allergies, Bruises, Psoriasis, Prickly Heat, Abscess and Skin Inflammation.
It helps in treatment of obesity i.e. over weight.
It curbs digestive complaints like Acidity.
Henna is good herbal remedy for Liver troubles namely, Hepatomegaly i.e. Liver Enlargement and Jaundice.
It calms the abdominal pain post Delivery.
It stops dysentery.
It alleviates muscular pain and joint pain in rheumatism.
It counters gonorrhea.
Henna is powerful in countering Menopausal troubles like Heavy Bleeding and Irregular Menses.
It counteracts Leucorrhoea i.e. vaginal discharge.
Henna paste is helpful in easing foot inflammations; those are an outcome of foot soles.
Decoction made from the bark has been used to treat some liver diseases.
Externally the leaves have been used to treat high fever, headache, joint pain and dermatitis.
Leprosy in early stages can be treated by Henna.
They are used as a gargle to treat sore throats.
Leaves are, used externally in the treatment of various skin diseases (including leprosy), wounds, ulcers and herpes.
An infusion of the leaves is mixed with tobacco and salt and used as a mouthwash.
Dyeing the hair with henna effectively kills lice.
Stem bark is chewed and then kept between the teeth for about 25 minutes in order to treat toothache.
Henna is used for many reasons including:
Celebrations like weddings, baby blessings, holidays & birthdays
Reminders - e.g. writing a message to remind yourself of someone that is important in your life
Beauty and adornment - a form of jewelry or body decoration
Cosmetic treatment - e.g. cover up for a scar/tattoo
Blessings & well-being - blessing a new bride or a new child
To be part of an ancient tradition
Alternative or precursor to a tattoo
Medicine: Henna is considered an herb, and has long been known to have healing qualities. It is used topically and usually not ingested or inhaled. In ancient times it has been applied to the skin surface for healing headaches, stomach pains, burns (including sunburns), open wounds, fevers, athlete's foot and even the prevention of hair loss.
Sunblock: Henna has been used on the noses of animals to prevent sunburn. It will also leaves tan lines after a sun tan if used as body decoration.
Insect Repellant: It is often applied to goat skin bags, and other leather, after they have been salt-cured. It "insect-proofs" or "moth-proofs" the bags by making the skin poisonous/inedible for those creatures.
Anti-Fungal: Because of its well-known anti-fungal properties, in ancient Ayurveda medicine, henna paste is applied on the skin to reduce athlete's foot and other fungal diseases.