Sources:

Anas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), the servant of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) narrated: “When the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) arrived (at Madinah), there was not a single Companion of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who had grey and black hair except Abu Bakr (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), and he dyed his hair with Henna and Katam (i.e. plants used for dying hair). Through another group of narrators, Anas ibn Maalik (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) said: “When the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) arrived at Madinah, the eldest amongst his Companions was Abu Bakr (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu). He dyed his hair with Henna and Katam till it became a dark red color. [Al-Bukhaari 5/44/257]

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to say: “The best of what you can use to change the white hair is Henna and Katam.” [Authenticated by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abu Dawoud, no. 4205]

Ibn al Jawzi records in his Kitaab al-Wafaa’ on the authority of Abu Rimthah that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to dye his hair with Henna and Katam. This narration explicitly shows that he would dye his hair. [Jami’al-Wasa’il fee Sharh al-Shama’il by al-Claari]

Henna (hinna) is a flowering plant with the botanical name lawsonia inermis. It contains a red-orange pigment, lawsone, also known as hennotannic acid. This pigment is released by crushing the Henna leaves in an acidic medium (i.e. vinegar or lemon juice). The lawsome molecules will then have the ability to stain, and when applied to the skin they migrate to the outermost layers, and stain them. 

Commercially availableHenna powder is made by drying Henna leaves and milling them to a powder, which is then sifted. 

To use Henna, the powder is mixed with water and/ or lemon juice to form a smooth paste. The Henna mix must rest for 6 to 12 hours so that the leaf cellulose is dissolved, making the lawsone available to stain the skin. The longer the paste is left on the skin or hair, the more the lawsone will migrate, thus making the staining darker. 

Health Benefits of Henna 

Various studies have researched into the benefits of the Henna plant on health. One study found that Henna has natural antimicrobial properties, such as being antibacterial and antiviral.[1]  

Henna has a wide spectrum of antimicrobial activity including antibacterial, antiviral, anti mycotic and anti-parasitic activities. With the ever increasing resistant strains of micro-organisms to the already available and synthesized antibiotics, the natural available lawsonia inermis (Henna) could be a potential alternative. 

A study carried out in the UAE found that the Henna plant had the medicinal properties of reducing inflammation, and being a pain reliever.[2] 

A research paper published in 2005 found that Henna leaves inhibit the growth of certain micro-organisms, and could therefore be used to treat burn wound infections.[3] 

Henna leaf extracts were able to inhibit the growth pattern of A. niger and F. oxysporum. Streptococcus sp. and S. aureus were also inhibited by the extracts. Inhibition of the micro-organisms’ growth suggests that Henna may be valuable in the management of burn wound infections.” 

This modern research provides evidence for some of the health benefits that Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah) mentioned about Henna over 600 years ago. 

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[1] O.A. Habbal, A.A. Al-Jabri, A.G. El-Hag – (2007) antimicrobial properties of lawsonia inermis: a review – Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism                                                          

[2] Ali, B. H., A.K. Bashir, et al. (1995) – Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and analgesic effects of lawsonia inermis L. (Henna) in rats – Pharmacology Basel 51(6): 356-363 {a} P.O. Box 17777, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates                                                                                                                     

  [3] H.S. Muhammad and S. Muhammad (2005) – The use of lawsonia inermis linn. (Henna) in the management of burn wound infections – African Journal of Biotechnology Vol.4 (9), pp. 934-937 

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Imam at-Tirmidhi and Imam Baihaqi reported in their Saheeh that Salma Umm Rafi’ (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) (the servant of the Prophet, Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allaah’s Messenger never suffered from a wound or a thorn without applying Henna to it.” [Authenticated by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi no. 2054, Saheeh Ibn Maajah no. 2837] 

She also said: “Whenever somebody came to the Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with complaints of a headache, he directed them to undergo cupping and whosoever complained of foot pain was prescribed to tinge the feet with Henna.” [Abu Dawoud] [Authenticated by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abu Dawoud no. 3858 and graded Hasan] 

“The master of aroma (aromatic) plants of the people of Jannah is Henna.” [Saheeh al-Jami’ no. 3677] 

Medicinal uses of Henna  

Henna is cold in the first degree and dry in the second. It is held in high esteem by Muslim doctors. Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah) stated that Henna is a beneficial treatment for burns. If it is chewed it is beneficial for mouth ulcers and thrush (disease that occurs in infants and children), and it also heals canker sores. A compress made of Henna is beneficial in cases of infected swellings. It is also effective in cases of blisters and ulcers on the legs and elsewhere on the body.

Ibn Sina says that Henna is an astringent. It is used in folk medicine as an astringent to heal wounds and burns, and as a liniment to treat leprosy and gout.

In modern medicine, Dr. Al-Naseemi confirmed the benefits of Henna in treating abrasions (blisters) resulting from walking, and fungal infections between the toes (athletes foot).  He explained this by noting that yeast infections lead to ease of scratching off the upper surface of the skin, but Henna acts as an astringent (causing tissues to contract). This dries and hardens the skin and prevents it from harboring infection, which prevents yeasts and funguses from taking over, thereby leading to a rapid healing of abrasions and surface ulcers.

Applying a decoction of Henna and rose balm mixed with melted candlelight wax also helps in the treatment of pleurisy. Henna also helps in the treatment of smallpox in its early stages. This is done by tinging the bottom of the child’s feet with Henna, which will prevent its progression to his eyes. This treatment is a well-known fact and a most common treatment in the case of smallpox.

Plant Cultures, Henna in Western Medicine:

In an important study prepared by Dr. Malik Zadeh, a professor of microbes and bacteria at the University of Tehran, he addressed the effect of the Henna plant on bacteria and germs.  The studies resulted in the elimination of various types of germs and microbes.

In the site ‘Plant Cultures’, studies revealed that Henna has an effect on the human body by slowing the heart rate and reducing blood pressure. Henna was effective as a sedative and was shown to relieve muscle spasms and pain in addition to reducing fever.

Henna was shown to have an effect on healing, as it contains a large number of important therapeutic substances such as the glue ‘tannin’. It also had a significant impact in the elimination of microbes (that reduce infection) and viruses.

Both crushed Henna paste and Henna powder were used to stop the bleeding nose as well as.

Laboratory studies on Henna also demonstrated that the presence of two compounds: (lawsone) and (iso plumbagin), have an effective impact on the eradication of cancer.

Other uses for Henna

Mixing Henna flowers with warm wax and rose oil is beneficial for pains. 

Placing Henna blossoms between the folds of woolen items scents them and keeps moths away. 

When Henna is applied to fingernails as a paste, it improves their condition. 

Henna also helps hair growth, and strengthens and beautifies it. 

Tips on using Henna as a stain, dye 

  • Fresh Henna powder should be vibrant and deep green, whilst old Henna may appear slightly brown. 
  • Commercial Henna pastes may contain additional ingredients to enhance their staining-power, and some are unsafe so always check the label. Black Henna is especially harmful as it may contain para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical that can cause itching, blistering and scarring. 
  • Adding essential oils with high levels of monoterpenes (compounds, i.e. phenols, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones) such as tea tree, eucalyptus, cajuput, or lavender to the Henna paste will improve its staining ability. 
 

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