MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Tell science behind -henna leves stains skin which is usefull for body dec

Date: Tue Mar 28 12:47:51 2000
Posted By: Sarah Tegen, Grad student, Molecular and Cell Biology, UC-Berkeley
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 953043983.Gb

Hello Atul,
I have found answers to your questions about henna.
As you know henna does not permanently dye skin.  What
happens chemically is that lawsone
the chemically active agent in henna will oxidize a
component of the skin.  This oxidation leads to a
change in the color of the skin's pigment.  The reason
why henna staining only lasts several weeks is that
eventually the skin cells die and slough off.

As for your second question regarding isolation of the
chemical responsible for the staining, it is possible
to extract it.  A crude water/ethanol extract of henna
leaves contains the lawsone and the rest of the plant
material.  The lawsone itself can then be extracted by
mixing the plant material with either butanol or
chloroform.  This will give a more pure samle of the active ingredient.  
The reference I used to determine
this is:

Good luck!
-Sarah Tegen

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