Henna Can Treat Capecitabine Hand-Foot Syndrome
Henna is the Persian name for a shrub known scientifically as Lawsonia Inermis. It is harvested twice a year, dried and ground into a fine powder. The powder is used to dye hair red and to make temporary body tattoos by staining hands and feet. The hennatannic acid is a natural vegetable dye which is a vivid orange-red color. The henna powder used for creating body art is generally considered superior in quality to the variety used for dying hair.
Scientists at the Department of Medical Oncology, Ondokuz Mayis University Medical School in Samsun, Turkey have reported that henna has healing properties for Hand-Foot Syndrome (HFS), a particular side-effect of capecitabine – a chemotherapy drug commercially known as Xeloda. HFS manifests as blisters and ulcers on the palms and soles, with some cases being so severe that fingerprints actually disappear, causing all kinds of security clearance problems. The usual medical ‘solution’ for HFS is stopping capecitabine chemotherapy entirely or reducing the dosage.
In the Turkish study, henna was applied to the hands and feet of patients with varying degrees of HFS. Six patients were grade 3 HFS and four were grade 2 HFS. Complete response (CR) was seen in four out of the six grade 3 HFS and all of the grade 2 cases. Two grade 3 HFS cases improved to grade 1. There was no need for dose reduction of capecitabine. The henna also had no noticeable side-effects. The scientist surmised that the clinical improvement in these patients may have been due to the anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic effects of henna. However, further studies are needed to show this therapeutic effect of henna.