Henna is the powdered leaf of a certain plant. It is used to make medicine.

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

Henna is used for stomach ulcers, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis), bed sores, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. There is also concern that using henna is unsafe when taken by mouth.

In manufacturing, henna is used in cosmetics, hair dyes, and hair care products. It is also used as a dye for nails, skin, and clothing.
When taken by mouth: Henna is UNSAFE when taken by mouth. Accidentally swallowing henna requires prompt medical attention. It can cause stomach upset, muscle breakdown, kidney failure, destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia), and death.

When applied to the skin: Henna is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when used on the skin or hair. It can cause some side effects such as redness, itching, burning, swelling, blisters, and scarring of the skin. Most often these allergic reactions are due to an ingredient added to henna. This added ingredient is most common in "black" henna.

Rarely, allergic reactions can occur such as hives, runny nose, wheezing, and asthma.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It's UNSAFE to take henna by mouth if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. There isn't enough reliable information to know if henna is safe to apply to the skin when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Henna is UNSAFE when taken by mouth. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE to apply henna to a child's skin.

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency: Applying henna to the skin of infants and children with G6PD deficiency can cause their red blood cells to burst.

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


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • An adverse skin reaction caused by cancer drug treatment (chemotherapy-induced acral erythema). Early research suggests that applying henna to the skin improves chemotherapy-induced acral erythema in people receiving the cancer drug capecitabine.
  • Nerve damage in the hands and feet caused by cancer drug treatment. Early research in adult females shows that applying henna powder to the hands and feet reduces the symptoms of nerve damage caused by the cancer drug oxaliplatin.
  • Skin reactions caused by direct contact with a substance (contact dermatitis). Early research shows that applying henna powder may reduce pain and itching in people with contact dermatitis from prosthetic legs. But it may worsen redness.
  • Bed sores (pressure ulcers). Early research shows that applying henna powder once to bed sores improves healing when compared with olive oil or no treatment.
  • Wound healing. Early research in patients that required a surgical cut at the opening of their vagina as part of childbirth shows that applying henna 2% ointment to the surgical wound for 2 weeks might reduce pain and redness by a small amount.
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis).
  • Bed sores (pressure ulcers).
  • Cancer.
  • Dandruff.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis).
  • Headache.
  • Itchy skin infection caused by mites (scabies).
  • Severe diarrhea caused by parasites called amoebas (amoebic dysentery).
  • Ulcers in the stomach or intestines.
  • Yellowing of the skin in infants (neonatal jaundice).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of henna for these uses.

Dosing & administration

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.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals


Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

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.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.


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.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 26/08/2023 10:00:00 and last updated on 24/11/2020 03:19:59. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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