Four Thieves Vinegar

In my explorations of the history and uses of lavender, I came across some interesting information about Four Thieves Vinegar. I'd heard of it before, but didn't know what it meant:

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 (], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Health is wealth and Herb is Health and Wealth
    Herbs are natures remidies with marvellous curutive power.
    Herbs are not drugs but they are full of divine energy. they cure diseases without any side effects in the body.
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  2. Anonymous9:59:00 AM

    This stuff works great, but the four thieves originally used vinegared red wine, not apple cider vinegar.

  3. Anonymous6:27:00 PM

    Very interesting post. I feel however that I should point out to R.K.Rao that Herbs are drugs. They are not full of divine energy, they're full of natural occuring chemicals. Chemicals that are drugs and that can be isolated and used as such. Herbs can help cure diseases sure, but like all drugs they do have side effects. Eat a handful of raw foxglove and tell me you don't feel anything.

  4. Anonymous5:55:00 PM

    Sounds like the last post was by a doctor or medical professional that has been duly indoctrinated into the world of modern day medicine. thanks for your opinion

  5. OK, so everything is drugs and chemicals including hot dogs, apples, citrus fruits by that definition.

    Actually, "drugs" usually refers to pharmaceuticals originally isolated from plants, but later synthesized for quality control. A plant has additional substances which may possibly act synergystically with the isolated chemical.

    My little plants are filled with divine energy, as are most of us.

  6. Anonymous6:14:00 PM

    My plants and I are also full of divine energy. but my herbs are also full of potent chemical constituents, some beneficial, and some of which (like the digitalis in the foxglove mentioned above), can be deadly....

  7. Anonymous4:23:00 PM

    the recipe is missing some parts--important ones. the formula included RUE and WORMWOOD along with mint and garlic. Most info does not include thyme but would be useful. Since plague has everything to do with fleas, the RUE would be most important as it is long known to repel fleas. hand full each in vinegar, then proceed

    1. I LOVE this recipe as posted. It makes the most delicious vinegar, suitable for salads, for cooked greens, for soups, anywhere you need vinegar, including cosmetic use. Herbs used within their contexts have been our food and medicine for THOUSANDS of years, and if we survive the modern age of extracted isolates, fabricated synthetics, lobbyists and money oriented legislation, herbs will continue to serve thus. How uncomplicated. Eh?

    2. There are contra indications for using Rue and Wormwood. Changing the recipe this way should be carefully researched.

  8. Anonymous8:04:00 PM

    Mix 50/50 with water, place in spray bottle and you have the best mosquito repellent ever. And you only smell of vinegar until it dries!)


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