Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Carpenter's Grass, Curía, Death Angel, Justicia pectoralis.


Freshcut is a flowering herb that grows in tropical areas of the Americas, including Mexico and Central America. It also grows in some Caribbean islands, including Trinidad and Tobago.

People take freshcut by mouth for menopause, painful menstrual periods, prostate problems, anxiety, and pain. Boiled freshcut extracts have also been used for allergies, anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, colic, cough, common colds, congestion, diabetes, epilepsy, fever, high blood pressure, pneumonia, nausea and other stomach problems, rickets, tuberculosis, and to make a pregnant woman go into labor. Freshcut teas have been used to treat coughs.

People apply crushed or dampened freshcut leaves to the skin for rash, bruising, and wound healing. Freshcut has also been used as an insect repellent.

How does it work?

Freshcut might have many different effects in the body. Freshcut seems to have antibacterial, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects. It seems to reduce the body's sensitivity to pain, reduce anxiety, repel insects, relax muscles, and increase airflow. It also seems to affect hormone levels and brain activity.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Menopause.
  • Painful menstrual periods.
  • Prostate problems.
  • Anxiety.
  • Pain.
  • Allergies.
  • Asthma.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Colic.
  • Cough.
  • Common colds.
  • Congestion.
  • Diabetes.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Fever.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Nausea.
  • Rickets.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Rash.
  • Bruising.
  • Wound healing.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate freshcut for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

There isn't enough reliable information available about freshcut to know if it is safe or what the side effects might be.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking freshcut if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


The appropriate dose of freshcut depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for freshcut (in children/in adults). Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Chariandy, C. M., Seaforth, C. E., Phelps, R. H., Pollard, G. V., and Khambay, B. P. Screening of medicinal plants from Trinidad and Tobago for antimicrobial and insecticidal properties. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;64(3):265-270. View abstract.

de Smet, P. A. A multidisciplinary overview of intoxicating snuff rituals in the western hemisphere. J Ethnopharmacol 1985;13(1):3-49. View abstract.

de Vries, J. X., Tauscher, B., and Wurzel, G. Constituents of Justicia pectoralis Jacq. 2. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry of simple coumarins, 3-phenylpropionic acids and their hydroxy and methoxy derivatives. Biomed Environ Mass Spectrom 1988;15(8):413-417. View abstract.

Joseph, H., Gleye, J., Moulis, C., Fouraste, I., and Stanislas, E. O-Methoxylated C-glycosylflavones from Justicia pectoralis. J Nat Prod 1988;51(4):804-805. View abstract.

Joseph, H., Gleye, J., Moulis, C., Mensah, L. J., Roussakis, C., and Gratas, C. Justicidin B, a cytotoxic principle from Justicia pectoralis. J Nat Prod 1988;51(3):599-600. View abstract.

Leal, L. K., Ferreira, A. A., Bezerra, G. A., Matos, F. J., and Viana, G. S. Antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator activities of Brazilian medicinal plants containing coumarin: a comparative study. J Ethnopharmacol 2000;70(2):151-159. View abstract.

Locklear, T. D., Huang, Y., Frasor, J., Doyle, B. J., Perez, A., Gomez-Laurito, J., and Mahady, G. B. Estrogenic and progestagenic effects of extracts of Justicia pectoralis Jacq., an herbal medicine from Costa Rica used for the treatment of menopause and PMS. Maturitas 2010;66(3):315-322. View abstract.

MacRae, W. D. and Towers, G. H. Justicia pectoralis: a study of the basis for its use as a hallucinogenic snuff ingredient. J Ethnopharmacol 1984;12(1):93-111. View abstract.

Venancio, E. T., Rocha, N. F., Rios, E. R., Feitosa, M. L., Linhares, M. I., Melo, F. H., Matias, M. S., Fonseca, F. N., Sousa, F. C., Leal, L. K., and Fonteles, M. M. Anxiolytic-like effects of standardized extract of Justicia pectoralis (SEJP) in mice: Involvement of GABA/benzodiazepine in receptor. Phytother Res 2011;25(3):444-450. View abstract.

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