Henna, Yazd

Henna, Yazd
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An ancient Iranian Herbal Substance with Modern Application

Henna is an orange red dye that yields varied colors depending on the surface to which it is applied. It comes from the leaves of a small shrub that grows in Iran, India, and the African coasts of the Mediterranean, and is used in cosmetics, perfumery, and medicine.

By distilling henna flowers, an intensely fragrant boiling henna powder, a yellowish brown color is gained which turns into brilliant red when mixed with an alkaline matter. Henna stems are used in dyeing industry to obtain the red color.

Using henna for coloring hair, hands and feet considered a traditional beauty ritual has a long history. Fresh henna powder was made into a paste by adding other materials, in order to produce an attractive orange color. The mixture could then be used as mascara for eyelashes. The color lasts three or four weeks.

According to Avicenna (908-1038), boiled henna leaves are effective in treating inflammations and burns caused by fire, mouth and gum sores, prevention of nervous disorders as well as healing of bone fractures. In regions where sun shines directly and intensely, coloring of the scalp with henna is recommended. In Europe hennas has been used for curing rheumatism and helping skin regeneration in wounds. Boiled henna leaves mixed with peach leaves were used for treatment of eczema.

To obtain violet, the amount of supplementary colors in the mixture is increased. If henna is mixed, with verjuice or lemon juice, its effect will be enhanced and a better color obtained. To change hair color to blonde, one portion of rhubarb flower and two portions of henna are mixed.

Henna has traditionally been growing in the provinces of Kerman, Sistan va Baluchistan, and Yazd where it is considered a native plant. Henna mills can be visited around Yazd.

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