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What Are the Benefits of Henna?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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People are often discouraged to find that many products used for dyeing hair, fabrics, and skin contain harsh chemicals. Henna dyes, which are natural and made from the leaves of the henna plant, are less likely to harm the hair and skin. In fact, many experts assert that henna helps moisturize the hair and make it stronger. Some people also appreciate the fact that henna allows them to change their hair color or get a tattoo without committing to these changes forever. Additionally, there are some potential health benefits of henna.

The benefits of henna, also called Lawsonia inermis, include those that involve temporarily coloring hair or tattooing skin. Within just a few weeks of regularly washing one's hair, the henna color will fade and a person can start new with a fresh color. Henna tattoos usually fade within four weeks as well.

A molecule found in henna dye, called the lawsone molecule, also has a conditioning, strengthening effect that may contribute to hair's overall health. It binds with a protein called keratin in hair to produce this effect. Also among the benefits of henna is that it helps smooth the hair, which can contribute to an appealing appearance.

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With traditional hair dyes, clothing dyes, and tattoos, a person faces the risk of developing an allergic reaction to the chemicals used, and in some cases, suffering severe irritation and burns because of them. In general, henna dyes are less likely to cause an allergic reaction, and all-natural henna dyes do not contain chemicals. As such, a person is unlikely to experience burning and irritation because of it.

Some people add chemicals to dyes made from henna in order to achieve certain colors, such as black. The added chemicals, however, can increase a person's risk of having an adverse reaction to the dye. For example, an ingredient called para-Phenylendiamine can be added to henna to produce a jet-black color but has been associated with chemical burns and allergic reactions. To avoid such problems, a person can mix his or her own henna dyes, using powder made from the henna plant, natural liquids like lemon juice, and essential oils. Additionally, he or she can look for products certified as all-natural and only patronize henna artists and hair stylists willing to share their ingredient lists.

There may be some health benefits of henna as well. For example, it is sometimes used in alternative medicine for treating such problems as stomach pain, burns, and headaches. Some people even assert that it can help treat individuals with cancer. A person may do well to seek the advice of a doctor, however, before using henna for these purposes. Many treatments involve making a paste from the leaves of the plant and applying it to the skin in the affected area; it is not safe for ingestion.

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turquoise
Post 3

@fify-- That's a good question.

Many cultures use henna for various things and some cultures do believe that henna has health benefits. I haven't seen any studies on it though so I'm not sure how true this is.

My family is Middle Eastern and my grandmother actually used henna a lot. She would use it on her feet and hands, fingers and hair. She once told me that henna is good for skin. She used to apply it particularly on the soles of her feet and her toenails, as well as palm and fingernails.

I've always thought of henna as something decorative but maybe there is something more to it than that.

fify
Post 2

Does henna have any benefits for skin conditions such as dermatitis? Does it have medicinal or therapeutic properties?

candyquilt
Post 1

Some ready made henna products in fact do contain chemicals. I had read something about some cheap henna hair dyes containing chemicals before. In fact, apparently, it caused allergic reactions in some people.

Henna is only natural if prepared at home, either from a henna plant or from fresh henna powder. Preparing henna paste from henna powder is very easy. One just has to add water and mix. There is no need to purchase those pre-prepared henna mixtures. First of all, as the henna waits, it loses its freshness. And manufacturers may have added other things to them.

I always buy fresh henna powder and make the paste at home as I need it. I make it in small batches so that each batch is fresh and most effective.

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