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Mehendi: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Lawsonia inermis L. also known as mehendi or henna is a shrub or small tree with dense branches, it is cultivated for its various parts (stem bark, roots, flowers and seeds) that are used in traditional medicine. It grows in tropical and subtropical areas.

The benefits of mehendi are mentioned in abundance in the history of India Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Chinese medicine. Mehendi has been an essential part of our traditions and it symbolizes fertility. Its popularity in India is due to the cooling effect of the herb which is useful for people in summers.1,2 

A bowl of henna powder

Did you know?

  • Henna (Mehendi) extracts have antibacterial effects against bacteria responsible for common skin infections. source: PMC
  • Alcoholic henna extracts show pronounced antibacterial effects against isolated bacteria in vitro. source: PMC
  • Henna can be considered an effective treatment for diaper dermatitis in infants. source: PMC
  • Henna has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial effects due to its lawsone content. source: PMC
  • Henna is traditionally used to reduce sweating of hands and feet. source: PMC
  • Henna extract enhances wound contraction and improves wound healing. source: PMC

Nutritional Value of Mehendi: 

The nutritional content fount in seeds of mehendi are seeds are:1 

Proteins (5.0 %) 
Carbohydrates (33.62 %), 
Fibers (33.5 %), 
Fatty oils (10- 11 %) 
Table1: Nutrients found in mehendi seeds1 

Allow me to share something that might pique your interest. The flowers of mehendi may have an interesting ability to relieve sun-induced headaches when applied in a paste form to the forehead. This traditional practice suggests that henna flowers might have soothing properties that may help alleviate headaches caused by sun exposure.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, MD

Properties of Mehendi:  

The mehendi plant consists of a range of compounds that play a vital role in several human conditions.2 It may have following properties

  • It may have heart protective benefits
  • It may have beneficial properties for leprosy
  • It may have blood sugar lowering activity.1    

From what I have encountered, in Arabic and Indian medicine, the leaves and roots of mehendi are potentially effective against certain types of diarrhoea. By making a decoction from these leaves and roots, it is believed to help alleviate the symptoms of and provide relief from diarrhoea.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Potential Uses of Mehendi:  

Potential Uses of Mehendi as an Antidiabetic Herb:  

Mehendi extracts demonstrated blood sugar lowering and lipid-lowering activities in studies and thus can be used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels in blood in persons with diabetes.1    Diabetes is a major health condition and requires appropriate diagnosis and treatment from a professional doctor. Therefore, human trials of mehendi are necessary to provide its potential usage for managing blood sugar levels in humans.

Also Read: Diet for Gestational Diabetes

Potential Uses of Mehendi Immunomodulatory Activity:  

Mehendi leaves extract demonstrated immunity stimulating effect immunomodulatory effect in studies as shown by the increase in a certain type of white blood cells, called T-lymphocytes.1  Further studies are needed to establish the claim of effect of mehendi for immunomodulatory effect.

Potential Uses of Mehendi Hepatoprotective Activity:  

Mehendi bark extract has also demonstrated hepatoprotective (liver protective) and antioxidant activity in studies.1,3 Mehendi leaf extracts were able to reduce the weight of the liver and the total bilirubin content in the blood.1  However more human studies are needed to estimate the extent to which it will be beneficial for human health.

Also Read: 12 Foods That Are Good for Liver

Potential Uses of Mehendi Sickle Cell Anaemia:  

In some countries, sickle cell anaemia is a common disease. In this condition, there is the formation of sickle-shaped red blood cells. These cells block the blood vessels and this results in obstruction in the transportation of oxygen. In several studies, mehendi has been found to prohibit the formation of sickle cells.4  However, serious conditions like sickle cell anaemia must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.

Also Read: 7 Home Remedies for Anaemia

Potential Uses of Mehendi Microbial Activity:  

Some components of mehendi have been found to possess antimicrobial activity.3  Extracts of mehendi can possibly treat infectious diseases.1  Researches show that mehendi extract has antibacterial activity against both gram positive and gram negative types of bacteria.1  Studies done on 13 ring worm fungi show a broad spectrum of activity in killing the fungi presented by mehendi plant extract.1    

Mehendi fruits too may be effective against Sembiki forest virus (SFV).1  Studies also determined leishmanicidal, antimalarial, antihelminthiasis, antiscabies and trypanocidal activities by mehendi plant extracts, all of which are activity against varies harmful parasites.1    

Some studies have also established that extracts of mehendi are capable of replacing disinfectants used commercially.5  Mehendi extract was found to be inhibiting the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in some studies.1 Mehendi plant was traditionally used in the indigenous system of medicine. Compounds isolated from the plant also show anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activity that can all help in fighting infections. 3  Leaves may show anti-inflammatory activity. 3 Further studies are needed to establish the claim of effect of mehendi for infections.

Potential Uses of Mehendi for Cancer:  

Extract of mehendi leaves was tested on the liver and human breast cells and they demonstrated cytotoxic (cell-killing) effects.3,1    Compounds extracted from mehendi show anti-cancer activity against melanoma and colon cancer.1 There is a need of more extensive research to validate the effect of mehendi in humans. Cancer needs to be diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor, hence, kindly consult a doctor.  

Potential Uses of Mehendi for Brain Function:  

Mehendi leaf extract may enhance memory or other cognitive functions and behaviour mediated through monoamine neurotransmitters. 1,3    The studies seem insufficient to validate these claims, therefore consult an ayurvedic physician before taking mehendi for its effect on brain.

Potential Uses of Mehendi for Blood Thinning:  

Anticoagulant activity of mehendi leaves was studied and established on the plant derivatives isolated from its leaves.1 These activities of mehendi, however, are yet to be proved in humans.   

Potential Uses of Mehendi for Wound Healing:  

Findings done histologically on the plant suggest the use of mehendi extract in wound healing as it shows several properties such as collagen production properties, enhanced wound contraction and increased skin breaking strength. These findings also suggest that we may use mehendi extracts in the burn wound infections management.3    However, more human studies are needed to estimate the extent to which it will be beneficial for human health.

Potential Uses of Mehendi as an Antioxidant:  

Mehendi seed extract was found to have antioxidant activity in research.2 Due to the presence of polyphenols the plant extracts possess the ability to remove free radicals by engulfing them and producing antioxidants.1 Studies show that fresh leaves of mehendi plant may be used to develop healthy foods due to their high antioxidant activity and consequent health benefits.6

Though there are studies showing the benefits of mehendi in various conditions, these are insufficient. There is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of mehendi on human health. Furthermore, every person may respond differently to these herbs. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before using mehendi for any medical condition.

Also Read: Cinnamon – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

In my view, mehendi leaves might offer an interesting benefit when it comes to managing obesity. In Indonesia, it is believed that consuming tea made from these leaves may help in managing weight and keeping obesity at bay. While more research is necessary to fully understand the underlying mechanisms, the fact that mehendi leaves might be associated with weight management sparks curiosity.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Mehendi? 

Leaf

Mehendi leaf is ground into a paste, or the dried leaves are powdered and used as hair dye for decorating hands, nails and feet. It gives relief in jaundice, skin diseases and smallpox.1  

Flowers

Mehendi has fragrant flowers and a concoction of the flowers may aid bruises to heal faster when applied locally.1  

Seeds

Mehendi seeds when powdered and mixed with ghee may be effective in treating dysentery.1 

The bark

The decoction of mehendi bark can be applied to burns and scalds. It is also effective in cases such as enlargement of the spleen, jaundice, calculus, and as a supplementary treatment in leprosy and obstinate skin problems.1 

Root

Mehendi may be a remedy for problems like gonorrhoea and herpes infection. Roots may be pulped and used for sore eyes and applied on the head of children for boils. In some parts of Cambodia, people drink a decoction for a diuretic action. Combined with indigo, mehendi root may become a powerful abortifacient.1 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.

Also Read: Rosemary – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

According to what I’ve noticed, traditionally the leaf and flower infusions of mehendi may be used externally to fend off ulcers and rheumatism. Additionally, these infusions might be consumed orally to alleviate symptoms of tetanus, epilepsy, and stomach pains.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Side Effects of Mehendi:  

Mehendi extracts are studied and found to be safe to be used ordinarily.1 It may be safe in pure form while henna tattoos have been reported to induce chronic psoriasis, intensely itchy erythematous, blistering eruptions to painful, itchy exudative bullous eruptions, swelling, or renal collapse and failure.8  

If you experience any side effect on consuming mehendi, you must consult the doctor who prescribed it to you immediately.

Also Read: How to Cure Sweaty Hands Permanently: Your Comprehensive Guide to Lasting Solutions

Precautions to Take with Mehendi:  

  • It may not be advisable for pregnant women to use mehendi extracts as it is known to show abortifacient activity.7  
  • Pure mehendi rarely has any allergic effect and is considered to be safe, but in modern techniques, some chemicals are added to mehendi to obtain a darker shade faster, which can induce allergy on the skin.8  

Also Read: Lavender – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) Can Mehendi Leaves be Eaten? 

Yes, All the mehendi plant’s parts are used to treat a variety of ailments. Mehendi is rich in phytochemicals and eating mehendi helps in protection against several diseases.2 

2) Is mehendi helpful for burns and wounds? 

Studies on the plant suggest that it is effective in wound healing as it has properties such as collagen production properties, enhanced wound contraction and increased skin breaking strength. 3 Mehendi bark decoction may also be directly applied on burns.1   it is suggested to take proper treatment for wounds to avoid risk of worsening it.

3) Can Mehendi be Helpful in Jaundice Treatment? 

Mehendi may give relief in jaundice.1 The bark is used to be consumed in jaundice.3    This claim would need further studies to be proven, consult a doctor for proper advice.

4) How is Mehendi Helpful to Our Hair? 

Henna can help our hair as it shows antidandruff activity; it also contains a dye molecule called Lawsone, which when processed becomes Henna powder dye. Henna has a natural affinity to the proteins in our hair, making it potentially able to ”stain” the colour onto the hair shaft.9  However the evidences are insufficient to support any helpful effect of mehendi on human hair.

5) Can Mehendi be used as a diuretic? 

Mehendi has been used in some parts of Cambodia. People drink a decoction of mehendi roots as a diuretic.1  However no large scale studies have been able to provide evidence for this effect.

Also Read: Sandalwood – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

References: 

  1. Chaudhary G, Goyal S, Poonia P. Lawsonia inermis Linnaeus: a phytopharmacological review. Int J Pharm Sci Drug Res. 2010;2(2):91-8. 
  1. Parimalam M, Kumar D, Kumar B. Pharmacological Investigation of Lawsonia Inermis L. Seed Extracts: An Invitro Study. Annals of the Romanian Society for Cell Biology. 2021 Mar 22:1723-33. 
  1. Borade AS, Kale BN, Shete RV. A phytopharmacological review on Lawsonia inermis (Linn.). Int J Pharm Life Sci. 2011 Jan;2(1):536-41. 
  1. KUMAR K, Kumar N, Swarnima P, Siddiqui A. HENNA (Lawsonia inermis) A MEDICINAL HERB EFFECTIVE IN SICKLE CELL DISEASE. International Journal of Indigenous Herbs and Drugs. 2021 Feb 15:01-4. 
  1. Che Azmi NA. Evaluation of antimicrobial efficacy of lawsonia inermis ethanolic extracts as surface disinfectant (Doctoral dissertation, Universiti Teknologi MARA (Kampus Puncak Alam)). 
  1. Thirupathy Kumaresan P, Subramaniyam M. In Vitro Free Radical Scavenging Activity Of Raw Leaves Of Henna (Lawsonia Inermis). 
  1. Sharma RK, Goel A, Bhatia AK. Lawsonia inermis Linn: A plant with cosmetic and medical benefits. International Journal of Applied Sciences and Biotechnology. 2016 Mar 31;4(1):15-20. 
  1. Treister-Goltzman Y, Egbaria E, Peleg R. An allergic reaction to henna used in a traditional painting ceremony. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 2016 May 4;94(5):941. 
  1. Gediya SK, Mistry RB, Patel UK, Blessy M, Jain HN. Herbal plants: used as a cosmetics. J Nat Prod Plant Resour. 2011;1(1):24-32. 

Also Read: Shikakai – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Disclaimer:

The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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