Alcanna, Egyptian Privet, Hennae Folium, Henne, Henné, Jamaica Mignonette, Lawsonia alba, Lawsonia inermis, Mehndi, Mendee, Mignonette Tree, Plante du Paradis, Reseda, Smooth Lawsonia.


Overview Information

Henna is a plant. The leaf is used to make medicine.

Don’t confuse henna with henna root (Alkanna tinctoria), also referred to as alkanna root.

Historically, henna has been used for severe diarrhea caused by a parasite (amoebic dysentery), cancer, enlarged spleen, headache, jaundice, and skin conditions. These days, people take henna for stomach and intestinal ulcers.

Henna is sometimes applied directly to the affected area for dandruff, eczema, scabies, fungal infections, and wounds.

In manufacturing, henna is used in cosmetics, hair dyes, and hair care products; and as a dye for nails, hands, and clothing.

People also use henna on the skin as temporary “tattoos.”

How does it work?

Henna contains substances that might help fight certain infections. There is also some information that henna might decrease the growth of tumors, prevent or reduce spasms, decrease inflammation, and relieve pain.

Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Ulcers in the stomach or intestines.
  • Severe diarrhea caused by parasites called amoebas (amoebic dysentery).
  • Cancer.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Headache.
  • Yellow skin (jaundice).
  • Skin conditions, when taken by mouth or applied to the skin.
  • Dandruff, when applied to the scalp.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of henna for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Henna seems to be safe for most adults when used on the skin or hair. It can cause some side effects such as inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) including redness, itching, burning, swelling, scaling, broken skin, blisters, and scarring of the skin. Rarely, allergic reactions can occur such as hives, runny nose, wheezing, and asthma.

Henna is considered to be UNSAFE when taken by mouth. Accidentally swallowing henna requires prompt medical attention. It can cause stomach upset and other side effects.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Henna is considered UNSAFE for use in children, especially in infants. There have been cases of serious side effects when henna was applied to the skin of infants.

Infants with a condition called glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency are at especially high risk. Putting henna on the skin of these infants can cause their red blood cells to burst.

Pregnancy or breast-feeding: It’s UNSAFE to take henna by mouth if you are pregnant. There is some evidence that it might cause a miscarriage. It’s also UNSAFE to take henna if you are breast-feeding.

Henna allergy: If you are allergic to henna, avoid contact.



Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Lithium interacts with HENNA

    Henna might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking henna might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.



The appropriate dose of henna depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for henna. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Clarke DT, Jones GR, Martin MM. The anti-sickling drug lawsone (2-OH-1,4-naphthoquinone) protects sickled cells against membrane damage. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1986;139:780-6. View abstract.
  • Cronin E. Immediate type hypersensitivity to henna. Contact Dermatitis 1979;5:198-9.
  • Etienne A, Piletta P, Hauser C, Pasche-Koo F. Ectopic contact dermatitis from henna. Contact Dermatitis 1997;:183.
  • Garcia Ortiz JC, Terron M, Bellido J. Contact allergy to henna. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 1997;114:298-9. View abstract.
  • Gupta BN, Mathur AK, Agarwal C, Singh A. Contact sensitivity to henna. Contact Dermatitis 1986;15:303-4.
  • Kandil HH, al-Ghanem MM, Sarwat MA, al-Thallab FS. Henna (Lawsonia inermis Linn.) inducing haemolysis among G6PD-deficient newborns. A new clinical observation. Ann Trop Paediatr 1996;16:287-91. View abstract.
  • Lestringant GG, Bener A, Frossard PM. Cutaneous reactions to henna and associated additives. Br J Dermatol 1999;141:598-600.
  • Lewin PK. Temporary henna tattoo with permanent scarification. CMAJ 1999;160:310.
  • Lyon MJ, Shaw JC. Allergic contact dermatitis reaction to henna. Arch Dermatol 2000;136:124-5.
  • Majoie IM, Bruynzeel DP. Occupational immediate-type hypersensitivity to henna in a hairdresser. Am J Contact Dermat 1996;7:38-40. View abstract.
  • Nigam PK, Saxena AK. Allergic contact dermatitis from henna. Contact Dermatitis 1988;18:55-6.
  • Pasricha JS, Gupta R, Panjwani S. Contact dermatitis to henna (Lawsonia). Contact Dermatitis 1980;6:288-9.
  • Raupp P, Hassan JA, Varughese M, Kristiansson B. Henna causes life threatening haemolysis in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Arch Dis Child 2001;85:411-2.. View abstract.
  • Sharma VK. Tuberculostatic activity of henna (Lawsonia inermis Linn.). Tubercle 1990;71:293-5. View abstract.
  • Wantke F, Gotz M, Jarisch R. Contact dermatitis due to henna, solvent red 1 and solvent red 3, a case report. Contact Dermatitis 1992;27:346-7.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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