Cancer Patients

Henna Hair Colour for Cancer Patients & Indigo Hair Colour for Cancer Patients & Others

Is henna safe if you have cancer ? Is henna safe if you have aids ? Is henna safe if you have diabetes ? Is henna safe if you have heart disease? Does henna cause cancer?

As far as I’m aware, henna hair colour and indigo hair colour are safe for cancer patients and it may well be safe for aids patients, and the vast majority of those who suffer from illness / disease of one sort or another   ( see : webMD ).

All my products are 100% herbal without any hair dye chemicals or metallic salts added. However, I think it is critical, if you have an illness, to consult your doctor in order to allay any concerns and to prevent risks. Be prepared to try what you know is safe for you after you have sought medical advice, and do not take risks.

If your doctor has never heard of henna, or you’re not certain that they know much about henna / indigo, ask UK Cancer Research (or the equivalent body in your country ) what they think and how they evaluate the safety of henna and indigo, and please refer them to this page. Ask around cancer forums as well. Do be alert to the various safety issues, but do also be very alert to the simple fact that there is a lot of ignorance about henna and indigo, even amongst the medical profession. Beware also the hair industry giants’ concerns to safeguard and promote the widespread use of chemical hair dyes which are – literally – to die for.

Whilst I am not a doctor, and unable to state whether anyone suffering with cancer should use henna / indigo, I would say that all the research I have done on toxicity of lawsonia inermis ( henna) and indigofera tinctoria ( indigo) suggests – to me – that both are 100% safe to use and that they are in fact beneficial for a number of ailments, including leukaemia. See, for example :

Anticarcinogenic Properties and Antioxidant Activity of Henna (Lawsonia inermis) “Antioxidant activity in henna was found to be the highest as compared to vitamin E or tocopherol. The strong cytotoxic properties of this extract could be due to its high antioxidant activities.”


See Thorne Research on indigo :


Indirubin, extracted from botanicals, including Indigofera tinctoria and Isatis tinctoria, is the active ingredient of the traditional Chinese medicine formula Dang gui Long hui Wan, which is used for CML.23-26 ( CML = Chronic myelogenous leukemia )”


Research on the saftey issues

If you want to conduct your own research to assess safety issues which you can then discuss with your doctor, I would suggest key words such as : toxicity indigofera tinctoria cancer / leukaemia, and : toxicity lawsonia inermis cancer / leukaemia etc.

Conflicting theories on the use of anti oxidants for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy

Henna and indigo are both HIGHLY antioxidant ( and anti microbial) . Fantastic if you want to avoid cancer, or any disease, and fantastic if you’ve finished chemotherapy treatment. But there seem to be conflicting theories on the use of anti oxidants for cancer patients who are actively undergoing chemotherapy – see the links below: Some people say that anti oxidants help to minimise the side effects of chemotherapy, whilst others say it undermines chemotherapy altogether. I think it’s important to undertake your own research, with an open mind, as nothing has been proven either way, and to then discuss the options with your medical advisor and come to a sensible conclusion.

Antioxidant Henna


Antioxidant Indigo :

Desperately seeking non-chemical hair dyes for cancer sufferer

(Topic on Macmillan)

Dear Sabrina
You replied to an email I wrote on the macmillan cancer forum looking for non-chemical hair dyes for grey hair. Just wanted to say thanks for your idea, have checked out your site, which looks great by the way, but unfortunately my mum’s doctor has said no henna. We don’t really know why cos he didn’t go into details. Thanks anyway for your interest. Maddy

Hi Maddy
Thanks for writing to let me know. I’m sorry to hear the doctor won’t give the go ahead, what a shame. I wonder, however, if he might be mixing up “pure henna” with “compound henna” which is flooding the market these days, ie pre mixed henna with chemicals ( metallic salts). Pure henna is 100% herbal, no chemicals; same for indigo ( the one which I sell anyway). I don’t wish to put you / your mum in an awkward position with your doctor, and obviously it’s your mum’s decision and down to her discretion ultimately, but I wonder if it might be worth asking the doctor a little more about the reasons for his concerns and possibly referring him to the website as well. If the doctor is concerned about the possible interaction of herbal henna with cancer drugs, then that’s a toxicity issue and each doctor may come to their own conclusions concerning that; however, if he is concerned that the henna may not be 100% herbal, that’s a different issue altogether and I think if he takes a look at the website he’ll understand that the product is 100% herbal and quite safe to use for anyone who’s looking for “chemical free” hair colour – this is the purest chemical free hair colour you’ll ever find ! What really troubles me about all this is that your mum is looking for a chemical free hair colour, this is a chemical free hair colour, and as far as I am aware, there are cancer patients out there who successfully use henna without problems, perhaps even benefiting from it. The ultimate decision lies with your mum, but I would urge you/ your mum to do some research and to ask more questions – cancer forums, net doctors , cancer organisations etc – get opinions and compare them. I don’t mean to go against your doctor’s advice in any way, but I do think it’s such a shame to pass by the opportunity to allow your mum to feel good about herself using a product that is probably totally safe and beneficial for her to use. I would request him to go into details to explain his concerns so that you can be sure that he does actually understand what pure henna / indigo is. If you choose not to take it further, I totally understand. It must be so very difficult for your mum and you. Whatever happens, I do wish you all the very best, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that your mum is blessed with healing. It must be a great blessing and a great strength to her to have a daughter by her side who cares enough to want to make her life easier in every way.


Dear Sabrina,
Thank you again for your concern and kind wishes. I read your e-mail and was going to tell my mum to ask the doctors why she couldn’t use henna, then I read your up-dated website info and found the answer myself: The high antioxident properties in henna. This is the problem! This clashes with CHEMOTHERAPY not cancer. My mum used to take lots of natural products from a health food shop, seaweed products and anti-oxidents. The doctor explained that she couldn’t carry on taking these things during chemo because they acted against the free radicals fighting the cancer cells, well fighting all the cells unfortunately, it it such an aggressive treatment. I know chemical dyes can induce hair loss in chemo patients which is why they have to use a veg/non- chemical shampoo, which is why I also couldn’t understand the problem with natural henna. I suppose if you dye your hair with henna your scalp absorbs all these anti oxident properties and slows the chemo down?

Will still ask doctor about this.

Kind Regards,

Hi again Maddy
wow ! I didn’t know that. So that’s the reason why – it must be. How interesting. Yes, it’s true the scalp will absorb the henna as basically henna enters the bloodstream, and in all other cases, it’s considered beneficial as far as I know – it fights bacteria and is “anti oxidant”.
Well maybe you could ask the doctor if she’d be ok to use henna/indigo after chemo – which I hope will be very very soon.

Thanks for writing back – that’s incredible information ! Would you consider allowing me to quote you on my website?

Hi Sabrina, 
You’re welcome to quote me, not that i’m a reliable source, just my own logic really. Yes with some cancer patients I’m sure that henna / indigo could be no problem, even beneficial, but chemo is an illogical healing process which destroys good and bad cells, then the good ones regenerate much more quickly than the cancerous cells which are much slower to regenerate. In fact in between sessions the damaged blood cells regenerate, but the chemo continues to work.. which is why any burst of antioxidants can build up your immune system ( which with an illness is normally great news ) but will interfere with the chemo attack… Yes, it’s a strange thing.. Also, since you have to leave henna on for hours it gives the scalp a long time to absorb these (usually) beneficial properties. I thought you might be interested anyway, since you do post some stuff about cancer patients on your site. Although i also must say that when the doctor said my mum should stop taking her natural stuff, she asked about food high in antioxidants and whether she should avoid anything. The dr didn’t know and had to look this up, he then said: ‘ Any food you like, just no extra antioxidants’, but then they go on to recommend a frequent intake of green tea, which has extremely high antioxidants, so the medical world is a little inconsistent sometimes!

I’m sure she’ll be delighted to use your products as soon as she can, and good luck with your business! What made you look on the Macmillan forum?

Best wishes

Hi again Maddy,
I’m about to put this info. up shortly – I thought this was the best way to assess everything in the end.

I found the Macmillan forum quite by chance to be honest – my personal theory has always been that henna / indigo are treatments for cancer, ( but that’s something I can’t say on my website as I am not a doctor ) , and I’ve been looking for info. to support that. I have found lots of research that supports henna / indigo being anti carcinogenic, but crucially, I never realised that their antioxidant properties could – potentially – interfere with chemotherapy treatment.

Anyway, good luck, and all best wishes !

Kindest regards



Cancer & Henna – is henna a safe hair colour to use if you have cancer ? ( read on – anything’s safer than a chemical hair dye !)

There’s some extremely interesting information in the book The Breast Cancer Prevention Program by Samuel Epstein & David Steinman – here’s where you can buy it at a reasonable cost :

There’s some extremely interesting information in the book The Breast Cancer Prevention Program by Samuel Epstein & David Steinman – here’s where you can buy it at a reasonable cost :

Here’s an extract from page 225 of the 1997 edition of the book: “A few years ago, women using hair dyes breathed a sigh of relief when the American Cancer Society ( ACS) and the FDA announced the results of a study claiming almost “no connection between hair dyes and fatal cancers.” That statement and the study itself are both misleading in the extreme.” The authors explain how hair dyes work and present their well researched evidence of the risks.

Here’s what the book says on page 226 :

“How Dyes Work

Three types of dyes are currently in use : permanent, semipermanent, and temporary. About 75% of women use permanent dyes, 20 percent semi-permanent, and 5 per cent temporary color. Temporary hair dyes and rinses contain lead and other heavy metals and dyes that coat but do not penetrate hair. They not only contain fewer toxic chemicals than permanent dyes, they also are not absorbed by the body, which makes them far less likely to pose serious health risks.

Permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes, on the other hand, are known as “precursors” or “couplers”. During application of permanent coloring products, a key chemical reaction, called oxidation, occurs between “precursors” and another key ingredient, hydrogen peroxide. This reaction leads to the formulation of highly reactive compounds ( benzoquinonemimines) that penetrate hair fibres. The “precursor” dyes react with the reactive compounds to form the desired colour shades. The hydrogen peroxide also decolorizes melanin, the substance that naturally colors the hair, allowing the new color to take hold. Semipermanent colorants work in a similar way, but without the hydrogen peroxide process.

Both animal and human studies show that the body rapidly absorbs chemicals in permanent and semipermanent dyes through the skin during the more than thirty minutes the dyes remain on the scalp. Additionally, the detergents and solvents used to wash and rinse the hair further increase skin absorption.

Evidence of Risks

Permanent and semipermanent colors contain a wide range of carcinogenic ingrenedints including diaminotoluene, diaminoanisole, and other phelylenediamine dyes; artificial colors; dioxane, a contaminant in detergents and solvents; nitrosamines formed by the interaction of ethanolamine detergents with nitrite preservatives or contaminants; and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Temporary dyes and rinses contain carcinogenic metals and petrochemcials, particularly formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and nitrosamine precursors.

In short, permanent and semipermanent hair dyes are a witches’ brew of carcinogens. The potential risks of breast and other cancers posed by these toxic products are well documented – as are also the efforts by the cosmetic industry to ignore and obfuscate the facts while continuing to manufacture and market the dyes.”

The authors refer to hair dyes as“avoidable risk” and henna is cited as a natural alternative : “a natural substance derived from plants which was used by women in ancient Egypt”.

Henna and Cancer

In addition, Cancer patients, and those concerned about cancer, may find the following information & links of interest :

Henna ’hairdo’ helps out a cancer patient : extract from Saratoga News, Letters & Opinions “Speak Out” issue July 6, 2005, Saratoga, California

“I am a cancer patient with a healing story. This spring I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a mastectomy and am now in chemotherapy. I lost a breast, my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes and my self-esteem. I found myself figuratively holding my breath, waiting for this phase of my life to be over. I decided that this was not an acceptable way to lead my life.

I was determined to do something that was life affirming and came up with the felicitous idea of having my head painted by a henna specialist. I asked a few questions and was directed to the most marvelous woman, Roopa Raman of Henna Bash in Cupertino. Roopa had never painted a head before but undertook the challenge with sensitivity and artistry, bringing to the project a spiritual quality that was very healing and which I now refer to as “my henna therapy.”

The results have far exceeded my expectations. I am physically and emotionally energized by it. People who know me tell me I’m glowing. People who don’t know me stop me to tell me how neat it looks, how cool, how artistic, sometimes even calling out from cars to voice their approval. Yesterday a man at the hardware store said, “You are a unique lady.

I no longer feel as though I am being dismembered, rather that I am remembering a life filled with riches, a golden time. I will continue to get a henna tattoo once a month (different each time, like a new hairdo) until my hair starts growing back. I eagerly propose henna therapy to others who are undergoing chemotherapy and send this message: You, too, are a unique person. Embrace it! I wish you joy.

Lee Rogers ”
s Altos

• dangers of carcinogens in hair dyes :

• hair dye risks : Hair Dyes & Cancer Risks, a reasonably balanced evaluation

Alert for Women on Cancer Dangers in Hair Dye

Could your Hair Dye Kill You?


A Message of Peace

To anyone out there who has cancer, aids, or anything else that threatens your life and dignity, I wish you strength of faith, mind, and body. I wish you the miracle of healing, and the blessing of hope. May light upon light comes after the darkest hours. Keep hope alive and don’t give up.