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Thieves oil


Spice merchants

In the 15th century, spice traders and merchants, who were also the pharmacists of the day, traded spices such as cinnamon and cloves from India across Europe. When the bubonic plague struck, international shipping and trade stopped, and the spice traders needed a way to support themselves. They invented a concoction of herbs and essential oils in a base of vinegar and would douse their body with this before they went out looting the plague-ridden dead bodies of boots, clothes and jewellery etc. to trade for food and money. They knew about spices and their medicinal properties and believed they would not contract the bubonic plague from the dead bodies if they used this concoction.

They were so successful that the King of France, at that time, found out and wanted to know their secret. Four of the “Thieves” were caught and brought before the King who gave them a choice, share the secret concoction or be burned at the stake.

Of course, they shared the oil blend secret and the King spread the word around and this also spread the “medicine”. Conflicting stories about who this King was are abound, but the original thieves oil recipe can be found in the English Royal Archives.


The herbal ingredients the thieves used included camphor, cloves, cinnamon, juniper berries, meadowsweet, rosemary, sage and wormwood in a base of white wine vinegar.
Since then the ingredients have changed over the years and now the basic simple concoction shown below works most effectively as an antimicrobial and antiseptic.


In 1997, the Weber State University researched this thieves oil blend and found that it did indeed kill 99 percent of airborne bacteria when used in room diffusers.

Thieves oil blend using a dropper

  • 40 drops of clove essential oil

  • 35 drops of lemon essential oil

  • 20 drops of cinnamon essential oil

  • 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil

  • 10 drops of rosemary essential oil

Thieves oil blend using spoons

  • One tablespoon of clove essential oil

  • One tablespoon of lemon essential oil

  • Two and a half teaspoons of cinnamon essential oil

  • Two teaspoons of eucalyptus essential oil

  • Two teaspoons of rosemary essential oil

Once these oils are blended they can be used in various ways:

Sinus and chest infections

A few drops of Thieves oil can be added to a bowl of steaming water and then lean over the bowl covering your head with a towel and inhale the vapours for sinus and chest infections.


Add one or two drops of the oil to a small glass of water and use to swill around the mouth and gargle then spit it out.


Add two drops to four tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda, mix well and use as a toothpaste. Coconut oil can be added for more protection from oral infections.

Diffusing Thieves oil

Essential oil burner

Add 10 to 15 drops in the water of an essential oil diffuser or oil burner and use for about 20 minutes three times a day. This will kill any airborne bacteria and will also help with sinus or respiratory disorders and infections.

General household spray cleaner

herbal spray bottle

  • Add two tablespoons of white wine vinegar to a clean spray bottle.

  • Add 10 to 15 drops of the Thieves oil to the spray bottle.

  • Top up with water.

  • Always shake well before use.

This can be used to clean and disinfect any surfaces throughout the home.

Topical Thieves oil

Add one drop of the Thieves oil blend to four drops of a carrier oil such as almond, avocado, coconut, grape seed or jojoba.

Use this topically on the feet, lower back, neck or behind the ears. Used daily on the feet can help to strengthen the immune system.

This can also be used as an ointment for acne, cuts and other skin issues. Dap some of the oil onto the affected area. Cover with a bandage or gauze overnight. Then remove and wash and dry the area.

NOTE: Due to the cinnamon and cloves content some individuals such as fair-skinned, blue-eyed people, redheads and those who tend to sunburn easily need to dilute Thieves oil in a carrier oil before applying to the skin as irritation may occur.

What to be aware of when using essential oils

  • Use inhalations with caution if asthma is an issue or if prone to nosebleeds.

  • Do not swallow oils unless supervised by a medically qualified practitioner.

  • Never apply neat essential oils to the skin.

  • Keep essential oils away from naked flames and out of reach of children.

  • Consult a qualified practitioner if epileptic or have high blood pressure.

  • Pregnant women should avoid using any essential oils.

  • Essential oils, especially tea tree oil, are toxic to cats and dogs and many other mammals so do not use where they are present. Even an oil diffuser or burner can cause serious health issues. See Natural remedies and hazards for pets.

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"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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