How to Prepare the Four Thieves Vinegar

Four thieves vinegar is a concoction of vinegar mixed with herbs, spices, and garlic. Its recipe contains herbs with antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-fungal properties and it was used to protect individuals from the bubo plague.

Magical Uses of Four Thieves Herbal Vinegar

The four thieves vinegar can be used in the following situations:

  • To repel an unwanted person.
  • In times of crisis.
  • In banishing spells and rituals.
  • To cleanse negativity.
  • In spells and rituals for protection.
  • In healing spells and rituals.

Other Uses:Orally:

  • The four thieves vinegar is known to have healing effects when taken. If you are sick you can take several teaspoon of the mixture. Also you can dissolve in water, juice, tea, etc before drinking.

External use:

  • Add a little of this vinegar in the bath water, it will help you to recover from an illness and also protect you from fungal and bacteria attack.
  • You can spray it as a disinfectant in your home. Also, it works effectively as insects’ repellants.
  • It is very useful in case of mycosis, e.g. nail fungus. Apply a little of the vinegar in water and soak your feet for 20 minutes.

In recent times, different recipes have been made which include mixtures of sage, lavender, thyme, and rosemary, garlic, rue, mint, wormwood and other herbs.  In Italy a mixture called “seven thieves vinegar” is sold as a smelling salt, though its recipe is same as four thieves vinegar mixtures.

History of Four Thieves Vinegar

As legends go, during the 18th-century plague epidemic in Europe, a band of thieves robbed the homes and graves of those who were sick and dying of the disease but never fell ill themselves. Their secret? An herbal tonic known as Four Thieves Vinegar. When the authorities finally apprehended the individuals, they agreed to grant them their freedom in exchange for the recipe. They wrote it up and posted it on the walls of the city so every man could make it for himself. After hundreds of years, many versions of this story exist, as do variations of the recipe. The original included several herbs and roots steeped for days in white wine vinegar. Scientists believe the concoction worked against the plague because it repelled insects, including the fleas, which spread that disease. French chemist and scholar René-Maurice Gattefossé published the “original” recipe that hung in the museum of Old Marseille, France in  his 1937 book, Gattefossé’sAromatherapy:

Take three pints of strong white wine vinegar, add a handful of each of wormwood, meadowsweet, wild marjoram and sage, fifty cloves, two ounces of campanula roots, two ounces of angelic, rosemary and horehound and three large measures of champhor. Place the mixture in a container for fifteen days, strain and express then bottle. Use by rubbing it on the hands, ears and temples from time to time when approaching a plague victim.

Over the years different variations of the original recipe have been released and in this blog we shall look at one of the recipes for preparing the four thieves vinegar.

Herbs Used in Four Thieves Vinegar Recipes

Modern versions of the recipe generally include four herbs—one for each thief—and garlic, a strong anti-viral and antibacterial itself, infused in apple cider vinegar. Some herbalists recommend the Four Thieves tonic as a preventative to ward off any communicable sickness like the common cold and influenza.* This makes sense when you look at the health-promoting properties of the individual herbs that you’ll find in most of today’s recipes. You will see various herbs in an individuals recipe, but these are the most commonly used:

  • Garlic—Garlic not only smells wonderful in cooking, but it promotes health as well. In addition to its positive effect on cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, garlic has been used for centuries to fight infectious diseases. Scientists now know that its principle compound, allicin, has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties.
  • Rosemary—Rosmarinus officinalis is one of the most popular culinary herbs around the world. And it’s also been widely studied for therapeutic use. A few of the validated medicinal uses of rosemary include antibacterial, anticancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.
  • Clove—For centuries, people have used clove as a food preservative because of its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown clove oil is effective against staph, E. coli, and pseudomonas.
  • Sage—Sage, or Salvia officinalis, has a wide range of traditional uses such as to relieve digestive disturbances, bronchitis and cough, and sore throat due to inflammation. The flavonoids and compounds in sage have strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
  • Juniper Berries—Studies show that juniper possesses anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties, among others.
  • Thyme—Thanks to the phenols thymol and carvacrol, thyme has the highest level of antioxidants of any herb. Thymol is a proven antimicrobial and antibacterial which is effective against staph, E. coli, and salmonella infections.
  • Cinnamon—Not just for cookies, cinnamon possesses antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Its historical uses include promoting oral health and improving blood coagulation and circulation.

How to Prepare the Four Thieves vinegar

In our version of this recipe, we used more herbs, as we had all of these in stock, but for tradition sake, you could use just 4!


  • 500 ml. of apple vinegar or white wine.
  • 2 tablespoons of thyme leaves.
  • 2 tablespoons of rosemary leaves.
  • 2 tablespoons of sage.
  • 2 tablespoons of lavender flowers.
  • 2 tablespoons of mint leaves.
  • From 4 to 8 cloves of garlic.


  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 cloves.
  • 1 bay leaf.


  • Put all the dried herbs and garlic into a large jar.
  • Add the vinegar into the jar and seal tightly.
  • Leave in a cool dark place for 6-8 weeks.
  • You can shake the mixture daily if possible.
  • After the last week, sieve the herbs, and then store the tonic.

Vinegar can damage the metal lid of containers; I recommend that you consider putting plastic wrap on top before putting the lid on.

What is your version of this classic?

References: Web –

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