Sinamomo is an erect, much-branched shrub or small tree, 3 to 6 meters high. Leaves are oblong-elliptic, 1.5 to 4 centimeters long, pointed at both ends. Flowers are fragrant, straw-colored, about 6 millimeters in diameter, borne on panicles, 7 to 30 centimeters long. Capsules are nearly spherical, depressed, 5 to 7 millimeters in diameter. Seeds are angular.
- Cultivated for ornamental purposes for its fragrant flowers and as hedge.
- Scarcely naturalized.
- Native of East Africa or India.
- Pantropic in most tropical countries.
- Study showed main plant constituents to be carbohydrates, glycosides, tannins, phenolic compounds, gums and mucilage.
Distillation yields a perfume.
- Leaves yield a dye, henna; it's coloring properties derive from lawsone, primarily found in the leaves.
- Leaves contain 2% resin.
- Flowers contain an essential oil.
- Volatile oil of the flowers smells oftrimethyl-amine, similar to the tea rose or mignonette.
- Seeds contain 10.5% fixed oil.
- Various parts of the plants have yielded a number of secondary metabolites – lawsone, xanthones, isoplumbagin and triterpenoids; from the flower oil, (Z)-2-hexenol, linalool, B-ionone.
- Study of essential oil from leaf and fruits yielded major components of 1,8-cineole and α-pinene and p-cymene. (17)
- Root considered astringent, abortifacient, anthelmintic, emmenagogue.
- Leaves are astringent.
- Fruit and flowers reputed to be emmenagogue.
- Studies have shown antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, wound healing, tuberculostatic, antiulcer, anthelmintic, antimalarial, spermicidal, hepatoprotective, antidiabetic, diuretic, antitumor, protein glycation inhibitory properties.
- Pulped roots used for sore eyes, or applied to head of children for boils.
- In Cambodia, decoction of roots used as diuretic.
- Decoction of root, mixed with prepared indigo, used by the Hausas as a powerful abortifacient.
- Roots and leaves used as emmenagogue and anthelmintic.
- Roots used in the treatment of hysteria and nervous disorders.
- Decoction of bark used for burns and scalds.
- Internally, bark used for jaundice, enlargement of the spleen, stones, and as alterative in leprosy and obstinate skin afflictions.
- Malays use decoction of leaves for hoarseness.
- Decoction of leaves used for stomachache, after childbirth, for venereal diseases, and as tonic.
- In Java, used for leucorrhea.
- Henna, mixed with Plumbago, used as abortifacient.
- In Morocco, used a vulnerary.
- Cataplasm used for leprosy and skin affections.
- Paste of leaves used for diseases of the fingernails and whitlow.
- In Java, used for herpes.
- Crushed leaves, made into a paste with oil or resin, applied to the temples for headache.
- Decoction of leaves used as astringent gargle.
- An ointment made from the leaves used for wounds and ulcers.
- Fresh juice of leaves, with sugar and water, used for spermatorrhea.
- Infusion of flowers applied to bruises; taken internally for headaches.
- In Antilles, infusion of flowers used as emmenagogue.
- In Nigeria, used as antimalarial; also for cosmetic purposes. Leaf decoction used for wound cleansing and healing. Paste of powdered roasted seed mixed with gingerly oil used for treatment of ring worm. Also used as blood tonic. (28)
- In Malaysia, fresh bruised leaves applied as poultice on burning sensation of the feet; also used for treating boils, circumcision wounds and flatulence. In Indonesia, paste of leaves use for herpes infection; also applied for diseases of the fingernails. Small twigs used as toothbrush. (36)
- Dye: Extensively used in shampoos, rinses, brillantines, gives the color a rich, auburn tint. Dye used for coloring tails and manes of horses; for dyeing Morocco leather and wool. Used in various cosmetic products.
- Tattoo / Art: Used for temporary tattooing, body art.
- Preservative: Used as preservative for cloth and leather.
- Fuel: Wood suitable as firewood. (36)
- Fiber: In Kenya, stems used for making fishing baskets. (36)
- Fodder: Leaves browsed by livestock. (36)
• Essential Oil Composition of Leaves: Analysis yielded 36 components which constituted 80.4% of the oil. Major components were: ethyldecanoate, 24.4%; (E)-methyl cinnamate, 11.4%; isocaryophyllene, 8.1%; (E)-b-ionone, 5.8%; and methyl linolenate, 4.1%. (2)
• Antibacterial / Antifungal: Lawsone, the antimicrobial agent in henna, has shown inhibitory activity upon common nosocomial urinary tract pathogens such as E coli, P mirabilis, K pneumonia, P aeruginosa, S aureus. It has also shown activity against oral Candida albicans. Naphthoquinones in L inermis exhibited toxicity against ringworm causing species such as Microsporum gypseum and T mentagrophytes. (1)
• Antioxidant / DNA and Cyto-Protection: A study of aqueous and methanolic extracts of L inermis showed significant potential in scavenging free radicals and in inhibiting lipid peroxidation. There was a definite decline in Cr(VI)-induced cytotoxicity in human breast carcinoma cells. Both extracts showed high phenolic compounds content which may be responsible for the antioxidant potential and DNA and cyto-protection. (3)
• Tuberculostatic: Henna herb showed tuberculostatic activity on both in vitro and in vivo testing. (5)
• Hypoglycemic / Hypolipidemic / Leaves: L. inermis leaves extract and chlorpropamide showed significant hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic activities in diabetic mice after oral administration. The results confirm the use of the plant in traditional Indonesian medicine for the treatment of diabetes. (6) Study evaluated the hypoglycemic activity of ethanolic extract of leaves in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Results showed significant effect on fasting blood glucose at all doses. Best activity was seen at 400 mg/kg dose with highly significant (p<0.001) fall in blood glucose. (40)
• Wound Healing: Results showed enhanced wound contraction, increased skin breaking strength, hydroxyproline and histological findings to support the use of L inermis in the management of wound healing. (7)
• Burn Wound Infection: Study investigated the effects of water and chloroform leaf extracts against primary invaders of burn wounds. Results showed leaves extracts were able to inhibit the growth of A. niger and F. oxysporum, together with Streptococcus sp. and S. aureus. (10)
• Anti-Ulcer: Study was done of henna leaves extracts in rats with pylorus ligation and aspirin-induced ulcer models. Results showed the aqueous, ethanol, and chloroform extracts to significantly decrease the volume of gastric acid secretions, free acidity and ulcer index. (8) Study of methanolic leaf extract showed remarkable gastroprotection against ethanol-induced ulcers as evidenced by dose dependent decrease in gastric juice volume, total and free acidity and increase pH. (41)
• Anthelmintic: Study evaluated the in-vitro anthelmintic potency of a petroleum ether extract against Indian earthworm Pheretima posthuma. Results showed the extract possessed dose-dependent anthelmintic activity when compared to Piperazine citrate. (11)
• Antifungal: In a study screening the barks of 30 plant species against Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes, only Lawsonia inermis exhibited absolute toxicity, showing fungistatic and fungicidal abilities. (12)
• Antimicrobial / Antifungal: Study showed henna possesses in-vitro antibacterial activity against a wide spectrum of bacterial strains and C. albicans. (13)
• Antitumor: L. inermis showed tumor suppressor effect and prolonged MST and AST time in mice with gluteal sarcoma formed with EAT cells. Results suggest Li can be used as a supplementary agent for cancer treatment. (14)
• Diuretic: Study of an aqueous and ethanolic extract of leaves in rats showed significant diuresis, with the ethanolic extract showing more activity than the aqueous extract. (15)
• Effect of Henna on E. coli: Leaf samples of Lawsonia inermis were evaluated for antimicrobial potential. Growth of E. coli pathogen was inhibited to various degrees by increasing concentration of herbal powder.(16)
• Natural Corrosion Inhibitory for Aluminum Ally in Seawater: Commercial henna was investigated for its ability to inhibit corrosion of aluminum alloy through immersion in seawater. Results showed henna has major constituents which contribute to the chemisorptions or adsorption process by forming isolation layers on the aluminum alloy surface. The protection was that attached on metal was not permanent and precipitation occurred with time. (18)
• Antifungal / Malassezia: Study evaluated the antifungal effects of various extracts of leaves on Malassezia. Malassezia is a normal skin flora that can cause pityriasis versicolor and folliculitis under suitable conditions. Results showed a chloroformic extract completely inhibited the growth of Malassezia. (19)
• Antimalarial / Antioxidant / Anticancer: Study on various extracts of Lawsonia inermis reported antioxidant activity (highest with an ethanol extract), antimalarial activity (petroleum extract) and activity against MCF7 human breast cancer cells ( ethyl acetate and petroleum ether). (20)
• Spermicidal Activity / Leaves: Study evaluated the spermicidal property of an aqueous extract of Lawsonia inermis leaves. Result showed instant immobilization of all adult spermatozoa on application of the extract. at 160 mg/ml. At 80 mg/ml,there was concentration- and time-dependent reduction of sperm motility. (21)
• Cheaper Alternative Biological Stain: Study aimed to produce an alternative and cheaper biological stain from the dark brown pigment of henna and the pink stain of chemical Benzalkonium chloride (Merthiolate). Results showed merthiolate can be an effective bio stain. Henna also showed to have staining ability. (22)
• Henna as Vegetable Tanning Material: Study showed a technique to recover a soluble powder from aqueous henna leaves extract. Phytochemical studies on henna leaves powder yielded tannin (11.12%), non tannin (22.64%), TSS (33.76%), TS (36.72%), moisture content (9.58%) and pH (4.5), and color Red+1.7, Yellow+2.8. The principle coloring matter as 2-hydroxy-1,4- naphthoquinone. (23)
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant Activity / Leaves: Study evaluated a warm aqueous extract of L. inermis leaves on carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver damage in healthy Wistar albino rats. Results showed significant hepatoprotective effect as evidenced by decrease in liver enzymes. There was also significant antilipid peroxidant effects in vitro, besides significant activity in quenching DPPH indicating potent antioxidant effect. (25)
• Antidiabetic Effect / Polyherbal Formulation of Henna and Azadirachta indica: Study evaluated the polyherbal formulation of Lawsonia inermis and Azadirachta indica in alloxan- and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Results showed a significant decrease in blood glucose compared to control. (26)
• Abortifacient / Roots: Study of a methanolic root extract showed dose dependent abortifacient effect, effectively inducing abortion in mice, rats, and guinea pigs. (28)
• Antibacterial / Pseudonymous aeruginosa: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of henna extracts from seeds and leaves against a wide array of microorganisms. Henna samples exhibited antibacterial activity against all test isolates and showed highest activity against P. aeruginosa. (29)
• Antifungal / Lawsone
/ Leaves: Study evaluated various extracts of leaves for antifungal activity against five filamentous fungi. Best yield was obtained with the ethanol extract. Commercial lawsone showed interesting MICs against Fusarium oxysporum and Aspergillus flavus. The antifungal activity may be due to the presence of lawsone in the leaves. (30) Study showed henna has antifungal activity against Malassezia. The aqueous extract showed greater effect than the methanolic and chloroform extracts. (37)
• Protein Glycation Inhibitory Activity / Lawsone / Gallic Acid: Protein oxidation and glycation are implicated in the pathogenesis of many age-related disease processes. Study investigated the protein glycation inhibitory activity of ethanolic extract of Lawsonia inermis (henna) plant in an in vitro model using bovine serum albumin and glucose. Results showed the alcoholic extract, lawsone, and gallic acid showed significant inhibition of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) formation with IC50s of 82.06 ± 0.13 µg/ml, 67.42 ± 1.46 µM and 401,7 ± 6.23 µM, respectively. (31)
• Antimicrobial / Leaves: Study evaluated various extracts of henna leaves for antimicrobial activity against bacterial pathogens isolated from wounds viz. S. aureus, S. mutans, P. aeruginosa, and fungi A. niger, A. flavus, and Fusarium. Maximum activity was shown by a methanol extract against all isolated human pathogens. (32)
• Chemoprevention of Skin Cancer / Leaf Powder / Lawsone: Study evaluated the chemopreventive potential of naphthoquinone derivatives, leaf powder of L. inermis for inhibitory effect of Epstein-Barr virus early antigen (EBV-EA) activation induced by a tumor promoter in Raji cells. Results showed profound inhibition (>88%) of EBV-EA activation. Orally fed lawsone in the mouse model decreased tumor incidence by 72% and multiplicity by 50%. Study suggests need of evaluation of these henna-derived green chemopreventive candidates in combination with current sunscreen agents for complementary anticancer potential against UV-induced skin carcinogenesis. (33)
• Anticonvulsant / Anthelmintic / Antibacterial / Leaves: Study of various extracts of L. inermis leaves showed anticonvulsant activity by electroshock method, anthelmintic activity against adult earthworm Eicinia fetida, and antibacterial activity by cup-plate agar diffusion. (34)
• Larvicidal / Anopheles stephensi / Malarial Vector: Study evaluated the larvicidal activity of L. inermis against Anopheles stephensis as main malaria vector in Iran. Highest toxicity was seen at 4000 ppm against larval stages I and II with LC50 and LC90 of 413.8 and 3366.3, respectively. Results suggest a potential for L. inermis as alternative larvicidal compound for An. stephensi control. (35)
• Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol Toxicity / Seeds: Study of L. inermis seed extract exhibited hepatoprotective activity against paracetamol induced hepatic damage in rats. (38)
• Antiarthritic: Study evaluated an aqueous extract of L. inermis for antiarthritic potential by percentage inhibition of protein denaturation and membrane lysis method. Results showed dose-dependent antiarthritic activity. Diclofenac sodium was used as standard. (39)
• Diaper Rash Treatment: Study compared the effects of product containing 25% natural henna oil and 1% hydrocortisone cream on diaper dermatitis (DD) in infants. The henna group showed a better response than the hydrocortisone group. Results suggest henna can be an effective and appropriate treatment for DD in infants. (42)
• Moderate Drug Interaction with Lithium: Henna can decrease the ability of the body to get rid of lithium. Lithium dose may need adjustment. (43)
• Analgesic / Synergism with Chlorophytum borivilianum: Study evaluated the synergistic analgesic activities of chloroform extracts of leaves and roots tubers of L. inermis and Chlorophytum borivilianum using tail immersion and hot plate methods. Both drugs showed significant analgesic activity by themselves. However, in combination, the extracts showed more analgesic activity. Activity may be due to blockade of release of endogenous substances that stimulate pain nerve endings similar to morphine. (44)
• Antistaphylococcal Activity / Leaves: Study evaluated various extracts of henna leaves against Staphylococcus aureus and S. epidermis isolated from clinical cases of acne vulgaris. Alcoholic extracts were more efficacious than aqueous extracts. Comparatively, vancomycin showed the highest diameter of inhibition. (45)
• Diabetic Effects / Polyherbal Formulation of L. inermis and A. indica: Study investigated the antidiabetic effect of a Polyherbal Formulation of L. inermis and Azadirachta indica in alloxan and streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Results showed a significant (p<0.01) decrease in blood glucose compared to the control group. (46)
Toxicity / Allergy Concerns
• Henna is a reported ingredient in many cosmetic products such as shampoos, conditioners, sunless tanning, hair color and bleaching, styling gels and lotions, hair sprays, moisturizers, among others.
• Studies have raised concerns regarding Lawsonia inermis as a human immune system and respiratory toxicant; and as an asthmagen and skin sensitizer.
- A profusion of commercial henna products in the cybermarket.