The Legend of Four Thieves Vinegar
One version goes that in the 1630's, when the plague was raging in France, the town of Toulouse was beset with looters. Four looters were apprehended, but rather than punish them, the judge offered them a deal. Amazed at their continued health after wandering though homes and businesses abandoned by their terrified (or dead) owners, the judge offered to let the thieves go if they gave him the secret of their resistance to the plague.
What was their famous secret? It was a vinegar made from thyme, rosemary, sage, and lavender. This infusion was termed thieves vinegar. Although garlic was added to the mixture later, this basic infusion became famous and was used for hundreds of years across Europe, both internally and externally, to provide protection from the dreaded plague.
How to make Four Thieves Vinegar
There are a number of recipes available for four thieves vinegar, but the original probably went something like this:
Use equal parts thyme, rosemary, sage, and lavender. Place herbs in a jar and cover with vinegar. Seal and place in a cool, dark place for six weeks. Strain into a spray bottle or clean jar and use as a disinfectant.
The original herbal ingredients are all strong antibacterial agents, as is the vinegar.
Variations on the recipe add sweet smelling herbs like mint and lemon balm to the mixture. Garlic was also added, and although it was probably an excellent addition from an antibacterial standpoint, it was not one of the original herbs used.
Cautions for Using Sage in Herbal Preparations: It is contraindicated if you are currently taking diabetes, anticonvulsant or sedative medications. For more specifics about drug interactions involving sage, the WebMD Sage page (yes, there is one) has useful information you'll want to review: Sage Interactions
Photo: By OttawaAC (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons