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According to herbalist Elizabeth Kastner, “During the height of the plague in France in 1721, it was discovered that the homes of disease victims were being ransacked. At first, no effort was made to find the criminals, since all knew they were fools, soon to die of the plague.

“As time went on, it became apparent that the thieves were continuing in their raids… and quite inexplicably, avoiding falling victim to the disease. Soon, they became highly sought — not due to their crimes, but in an effort to learn their secret.

“When they were finally captured, they refused to speak until a bargain was offered: remain silent and hang. Divulge the secret to their resistance to the deadly plague and walk away.

“It seems that the mother of several of the boys was a midwife A.D.H.D.a recipe which used plants which were easily wildcrafted… yet, she knew that this would change immediately if anyone learned the formula, so she swore her children to secrecy. Her sons saved their necks and shared the recipe for the disinfectant, which is still used in France to this day.”

Given the simple ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar and with all the yammering about smallpox, bioterrorism diseases, and Flu vaccine shortages in the news these days, it seems prudent to me to prepare a home stock of this historical preventative for dread diseases. According to Kastner, the traditional recipe for Four Thieves Vinegar “makes a lot of sense, medicinally speaking.”

You can make your own “Four Thieves Vinegar” by following the simple recipe below.

Get your dried, organic herbs, organic essential oils, bulk spices, loose leaf organic teas and aromatherapy supplies at the place where we shop – StarWest Botanicals!

Four Thieves Vinegar Recipe:

Use equal parts of the following herbs:

  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Melissa (Lemon balm)
  • Hyssop
  • Peppermint
  • A handful of Garlic Cloves

Blend ingredients in a glass jar and cover completely with organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, which is available in most health food stores. Cold infuse (let sit at room temperature in a cool place) for six weeks and then strain off herbs and Garlic.

You can take Four Thieves Vinegar by the teaspoonful, use it as a salad dressing, or even add a spoonful to your bath water for personal protection. Four Thieves Vinegar and warmed organic Coconut Oil make an excellent salad dressing.

You can also use it as a topical spray to disinfect surfaces — including skin — and/or you can take it as a tincture. All of the ingredients in Four Thieves Vinegar are either potent antibacterials or antivirals!

Original Recipe for Four Thieves Formula (I wouldn’t use this one)

  • 3 pints white wine vinegar
  • handful wormwood
  • handful meadowsweet
  • handful Juniper berries
  • handful wild marjoram
  • handful sage
  • 50 cloves
  • 2 oz. Elecampane root
  • 2 oz. angelica
  • 2 oz. rosemary
  • 2 oz. horehound
  • 3 g camphor

Get your dried, organic herbs, organic essential oils, bulk spices, loose leaf organic teas and aromatherapy supplies at the place where we shop – StarWest Botanicals!

Marseilles Vinegar or Four Thieves Vinegar (external use only!)

  • 40 g. greater wormwood, Artemesia absinthum
  • 40 g. lesser wormwood, Artemesia pontica
  • 40 g. rosemary
  • 40 g. sage
  • 40 g. mint
  • 40 g. rue
  • 40 g. lavender
  • 5 g. calamus
  • 5 g. cinnamon
  • 5 g. clove
  • 5 g. nutmeg
  • 5 g. garlic
  • 10 g. Camphor (do not use synthetic Camphor)
  • 40 g. crystallized acetic acid
  • 2500 g. white vinegar

Instructions: steep the plants in the vinegar for 10 days. Force through a sieve. Add the Camphor dissolved in the acetic acid, filter.

Valnet says this remedy is useful in the prevention of infectious diseases. He says to rub it on the face and hands and burn it in the room. It can also be kept in small bottles that are carried on the person so that the vapors can be inhaled.

Dr. John Christopher Plague Formula

  • 8 parts apple cider vinegar
  • 5 parts glycerine U.S.P.
  • 5 parts honey
  • 2 parts Garlic juice, fresh
  • 2 parts Comfrey root concentrate*
  • 1 part wormwood concentrate
  • 1 part lobelia leaf and/or seed concentrate
  • 1 part Marshmallow root concentrate
  • 1 part oak bark concentrate
  • 1 part black walnut bark concentrate
  • 1 part Mullein leaf concentrate
  • 1 part skullcap leaf concentrate
  • 1 part Uva Ursi, hydrangea, or Gravel Root concentrate

Get your dried, organic herbs, organic essential oils, bulk spices, loose leaf organic teas and aromatherapy supplies at the place where we shop – StarWest Botanicals!

Mix the ingredients well

*Due to new restrictions on Comfrey for internal use, it is suggested that Slippery Elm be substituted for this ingredient.

Dosage: 1 tsp. 3 times a day; or 1 tablespoon every 1/2 hour if infected.

Making a concentrate:

Each concentrate should be made individually. Start by soaking the herb for four hours or more in enough distilled water to cover it completely. After soaking, add more distilled water so that the total added equals 16 oz. (.5 liter) water per 4 oz. (113 grams) herb. Use a multiple of these amounts for a larger quantity of formula. Using these amounts approximately one gallon (3.75 liters) of the formula will be produced.

After adding the appropriate amount of distilled water to the soaked herb, simmer the herb on very low heat in a covered pan or double boiler for thirty minutes. Then strain the liquid into a clean pan. Put the liquid into a double boiler or on very low heat (uncovered) and simmer (steam) it down to one fourth of the original volume (4 oz. 1256 ml). Only after all ingredients have been prepared should the liquids be mixed

Do not use aluminum, Teflon, or cracked porcelain. Glass, corning ware or stainless steel or whole porcelain are best.

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Dee Braun

Dee is an Adv. Certified Aromatherapist, Reiki Master, Adv. Color/Crystal Therapist, Herbalist, Dr. of Reflexology and single mom who is dedicated to helping others any way she can.


One way she chooses to help is by offering information on the benefits and uses of natural health and healing methods for the well-being of both people and pets.


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