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      From body art to anticancer activities: perspectives on medicinal properties of henna.

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          Nature has been a rich source of therapeutic agents for thousands of years and an impressive number of modern drugs have been isolated from natural sources based on the uses of these plants in traditional medicine. Henna is one such plant commonly known as Persian Henna or Lawsonia inermis, a bushy, flowering tree, commonly found in Australia, Asia and along the Mediterranean coasts of Africa. Paste made from the leaves of Henna plant has been used since the Bronze Age to dye skin, hairs and fingernails especially at the times of festivals. In recent times henna paste has been used for body art paintings and designs in western countries. Despite such widespread use in dyeing and body art painting, Henna extracts and constituents possess numerous biological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anticancer activities. The active coloring and biologically active principle of Henna is found to be Lawsone (2- hydroxy-1, 4-naphthoquinone) which can serve as a starting building block for synthesizing large number of therapeutically useful compounds including Atovaquone, Lapachol and Dichloroallyl lawsone which have been shown to possess potent anticancer activities. Some other analogs of Lawsone have been found to exhibit other beneficial biological properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitubercular and antimalarial. The ability of Lawsone to undergo the redox cycling and chelation of trace metal ions has been thought to be partially responsible for some of its biological activities. Despite such diverse biological properties and potent anticancer activities the compound has remained largely unexplored and hence in the present review we have summarized the chemistry and biological activities of Lawsone along with its analogs and metal complexes.

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          Author and article information

          [1 ] ISTRA, Department of Chemistry, Abeda Inamdar S�nior College, University of Pune, Pune 411001 India.
          Curr Drug Targets
          Current drug targets
          Dec 2012
          : 13
          : 14
          23140289 CDT-EPUB-20121106-10


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