Scientific name: Lawsonia inermis

Common names: Alcanna, Egyptain Privet, Jamaican Migonette

Ayurvedic names: mendika, raktagarba, kuravaka, madayantika, madanaka

Chinese names: Jan-chih-chia-ts’ao

Bangladesh names: Mehedi, Mendi

Arabic names:    الحناء (al henna’e)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Fabaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Leaf, root


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 2 to 6 m

Actions: Astringent

Known Constituents: A brown substance of a resinoid fracture, having the chemical properties which characterize the tannins, and therefore named hennotannic acid

Constituents Explained:


The small, white and yellow, heavy, sweet-smelling flowers are borne on dwarf shrubs 8 to 10 feet high. A distilled water prepared from them is used as a cosmetic, and the powdered leaves have been in use from the most ancient times in Eastern countries for dyeing the hair and the nails a reddish-yellow

Traditional Use:

The leaf is used internally and externally for skin problems.1  Also used for headaches, and gargled for a sore throat.1 The bark has been used as a dye.

Clinical Studies:

Lawsonia inermis (henna plant) has been used in herbal medicine for ages. However, the medical benefits of this plant have been discussed in only a few publications. 

The antibacterial effects of water, alcoholic and oily extracts of Lawsonia inermis leaves against bacterial cultures isolated from various skin diseases were investigated and compared with Tetracycline, Ampicillin, Gentamicin and Ciprofloxacin antibiotics. 

Cultures of Staphylococcus aureus Staphylococcus epidermidis (Co-agulase negative staphylococci or CONS), ß-hemolytic streptococci and Pseudomonas aeruginosa species were obtained from 74 (35 females, 39 males) patients with different skin infections who attended the Dermatology outpatient clinic in Basra General Hospital.

The bacterial isolates were treated with L. inermis extracts in vitro. Alcoholic and oily extracts were more effective than the water extract which had no effects using standard method of NCCL, 2000. there were no statically differences between the effects of oily and alcoholic henna extracts.

Alcoholic extracts showed pronounced antibacterial effects against the isolated bacteria in vitro.


Al-Rubiay KK, Jaber NN, Al-Mhaawe BH, Al-Rubiay LK. “Antimicrobial Efficacy Of Henna Extracts.” 2008 October http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22334837