If you have a box of green stuff that says “neutral henna”, that green powder is neither neutral nor henna. There is no such plant as neutral henna! Henna is Lawsonia inermis, and has a red-orange dye molecule. The green "neutral henna" powder is most likely to be Cassia obovata leaf!
Cassia obovata powder looks very much like henna powder, but generally does not stain hair or hands. It is an excellent conditioner which makes hair glossy and thick, with a healthy scalp. When you mix this green leaf powder with warm water, it has a strong smell similar to a heap of warm mowed grass. If your powder stains your hair or hands yellow, it probably has some rhubarb root mixed into it.
obovata is also known as
obovata. Cassia and Senna are used often interchangeably in botanical
texts. Do remember, though that Cassia, which is also called
Senna, is NOT the Cassia, which is true Cinnamon. Just in case
you weren’t confused enough already. For the purposes of this
page, I’ll refer to Cassia/Senna as Cassia.
Chrysophanic acid (1,8-dihydroxy-3-methylanthraquinone),
Chemical structure of chrysophanic acid (1,8-dihydroxy-3-methylanthraquinone)
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 72 (2000) 43–46
Cassias with high levels of anthraquinones and crysophanic acid are very effective inhibitors of skin fungus, mite infestations, bacterial and microbial diseases. Cassia alata, which has high levels of anthraquinones and crysophanic acid, has been traditionally used to treat eczema, itching and skin infections in humans. It has also been demonstrated to completely cure bovine skin lesions due to Dermatophilus Congolensis, Pityriasis versicolor, and mite infestation of rabbits, Psoroptes cuniculi. In other tests, Cassia alata anthraquinones were effective inhibitors of of Streptococus mutans, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Micrococcus luteus, and Pseudomonas putida. Chrysophanic acid is also effective in treating psoriasis. The cassias with high levels of anthraquinones and crysophanic acid are genuinely effective in promoting healthy conditions of skin and hair. Cassia obovata has not been as throughly tested as Cassia alata, but seems to have similar properties.
In comparison to Cassia obovata, henna (Lawsonia inermis) has napthoquonine, or hennotannic acid, another antifungal which has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for ringworm and other fungal skin infections.
Some of the early western confusion over the cassia species as used in traditional Arabic, Indian, and North African medicines can be seen in the 1911 edition of The British Pharmaceutical Codex, which lists Senna Alexandrina, Alexandrian Senna; Cassia obovata; Cassia angustifolia, Arabian senna, Mecca senna; Cassia montana; Cassia holosericea; Cassia angustifolia, Senna Indica, Indian senna, Tinnevelly senna; Cassia acutifolia, Cassia angustifolia and says “The constituents of senna leaves are not yet well known.” Recent ethnobotanists have studied these plants and attempted to clarify species, isolate and identify phytochemicals, and test their effects on fungi and bacteria, but still stumble around the old names.
How do you know if cassia obovata will make your hair gorgeous? Try some! Mix up a little bit of henna and try it on hair you've harvested from your hairbrush. Want enough to try twice? (once to test and once to be sure) Avert potential disaster for $1.50! (what a bargain!)
Do You Mix and Apply Cassia Obovata?
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