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Science and Research

Catherine Cartwright-Jones, PhD
, founder of Ancient Sunrise®, has been involved in science and research on henna for over 20 years. Here are some of the articles she’s written. We’ll add new articles as they become available.

Ruchi Badoni Semwala, Deepak Kumar Semwala, Sandra Combrinck, Catherine Cartwright-Jones, Alvaro Viljoen. "Lawsonia inermis L. (henna): Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological aspects." Journal of Ethnopharmacology June (2014)

Abstract and Ethnopharmacological relevance: The use of Lawsonia inermis L. (henna) for medicinal and cosmetic purposes is inextricably linked to ancient and modern cultures of North Africa and Asia. Literature and artwork indicates that Lawsonia inermis played an important holistic role in the daily lives of some ancient cultures, providing psychological and medicinal benefits, as well as being used for personal adornment. Although henna was historically applied to the hands and feet to protect against fungal pathogens and to hair to combat lice and dandruff, other traditional uses include the treatment of liver and digestive disorders, reduction of tissue loss in leprosy, diabetic foot disorders and ulcers.

Phytochemistry: Almost 70 phenolic compounds have been isolated from various parts of the plant. Naphthaquinones, which include the dying principle lawsone, have been linked to many of the pharmacological activities. The terpene, β-ionone is largely responsible for the pungent odour of the essential oil isolated from the flowers. In addition to other volatile terpenes, some non-volatile terpenoids, a single sterol, two alkaloids and two dioxin derivatives have also been isolated from the plant.

Bioactivity: Henna is a pharmacologically important plant with significant in vitro and in vivo biological activities. Although a myriad of pharmacological activities have been documented, the antioxidant and antimicrobial activities are the most thoroughly investigated. Some incidents of adverse reactions following application to the skin have been reported, but these are mainly confined to cases involving individuals with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and reactions to adulterants added to henna products.

Conclusions: Adulteration of henna is very common and may have resulted in unwarranted scientific findings. Phytochemical profiling studies of the plant, which are crucial for the establishment of proper quality control protocols, are lacking and hamper the development of medicinal products. Although many in vitro studies have been conducted to evaluate the pharmacological activities and many in vivo studies have focussed on the toxicity of extracts, more in vivo studies to validate pharmacological activities are needed. The roles of specific compounds and their synergies have not been comprehensively investigated.

The Geographies of the Black Henna Meme Organism and the Epidemic of Para-phenylenediamine Sensitization: A Qualitative History

Catherine Cartwright-Jones' doctoral dissertation is a study of the use of para-phenylenediamine to create "black henna, the dispersion of henna in the modern West and the health problems resulting from the addition of black dye to henna.

Developing Guidelines on Henna: a Geographical Approach
Catherine Cartwright-Jones’ masters thesis is a comprehensive discussion on the botany, chemistry, history and traditions of henna, and the legal and cultural issues that have arisen since 1990.

Additional articles by Catherine Cartwright-Jones on the geography and cultivation of henna available online.

The Geography of Henna
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The Geography of Henna: I: Where Can Henna Grow?
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The Geography of Henna: II: Where Is Henna Grown commercially?
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Where Does Henna Grow in India?
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The Geography of Henna: Where is henna grown, processed and exported in India?
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Geography of Henna I: Worldwide Map Cultivation
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Geography of Henna II: Worldwide Map Commerce
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The Geography of Henna: Rajasthan's Main Henna Growing Region
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Henna: Lawsonia Inermis
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Henna: Lawsonia Inermis
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Milling Henna Leaves
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Henna Farming in Pakistan
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Henna Farming in Pakistan: Large Map
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Henna Harvesting in Pakistan: Camels
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Henna Drying and Sorting in Pakistan
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Henna Fields in Pakistan
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Henna Harvesting in Pakistan
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Henna Plants in Pakistan
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