Four Thieves Vinegar


The “Four Thieves Vinegar” is a specific vinegar composition that is said to have been used for prevention during the peak of the black death.


Legend declares that whenever the police or various officials would catch grave robbers, they would notice that these men weren't catching the black plague. Rumours began to circulate that grave robbers held the secret recipe to the cure for the plague. Although they originally used this secret vinegar recipe to keep the ailments of the dead at bay, it also helped with the plague.


The most well-known legend declares that a group of thieves were robbing graves during a European plague outbreak. When they were caught, they struck a deal. In order to not be hanged, they offered to exchange their secret vinegar recipe. And so, began the Four Thieves Vinegar. There are as many recipe variations as there are plots to this myth.


A famous recipe was hung in the Museum of Paris in 1937, and is said to have been an original copy of the recipe posted on the walls of Marseilles during an episode of the plague. It read:


“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 angelica, rosemary and horehound and three large measures of camphor. 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.”


Another recipe called for dried rosemary, dried sage flowers, dried lavender flowers, fresh rue, camphor dissolved in spirit, sliced garlic, bruised cloves, and distilled wine vinegar. We will take a look at modern versions of the recipe…


  1. Lavender (Lavandula spp): Lavender is anxiolytic, sedative

  2. Garlic (Allium sativum): Garlic is antimicrobial, antiviral, mucolytic

  3. Sage (Salvia officinalis): Sage is febrifuge, antimicrobial

  4. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Thyme is expectorant, antimicrobial, antitussive, carminative, antifungal

  5. Black pepper (Piper nigra): Black pepper is warming

  6. Mint (Mentha Piperitta): Mint is carminative, decongestant

  7. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary is a cardiotonic, increases concentration, carminative.

  8. Wormwood (Artemisia spp): Wormwood is bitter, carminative, antimicrobial.


In 250ml of Apple Cider Vinegar add 1 TBSP of your chosen herbs and 1-2 cloves of bruised/minced garlic.


Take a tot a day, but be sure to read the Apple Cider Vinegar post to check out any precautions you should be taking.


This article was written for educational purposes only and is not intended to cure or diagnose the audience.

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