Monday, April 27, 2009

Four Thieves: Anti-Plague Remedy from the pages of history

SWINE FLU (H1N1)

what can a person do to help the odds of escaping this flu?
washing of hands isn't quite the total answer.
some have mentioned the things that help is a strong immune system
that is a given, good food- fresh air- sunshine.
what else?
here are a few articles on a vinegar that has helped situations like this in the past,
perhaps you have read of it, the tale from long ago.


Vinegar of the 4 thieves

i have complied everything i came up with in my research for this anti plague recipe that has great success...




with the onset of yet another possible pandemic, the swine flu that is gaining victims exponentially, i thought it was high time to get a batch of this vinegar going.
i included all the recipes and this way you can choose the one that fits your needs the best. at the bottom of the blog you will find the links from where i found this information and of course, a disclaimer. i am not a dr,
never claimed to be one.

there.

that said
here is the info:


Epidemics, sudden outbreaks of diseases, have hit populations since humans began living in close proximity. The most infamous of the epidemics were the cyclic plagues or "Black Death" that hit during the Middle Ages starting around 1346. Looking back, we attribute the causes to Yersinia pestis, a plague which has three forms--pneumonic, septicemic, and bubonic--smallpox, influenza, gonorrhea, and tuberculosis. Estimates guess that anywhere from twenty-five to forty percent of the populations were killed with any one plague.

During the dreadful years of the Black Death, a few people found the way to survive the plague that was decimating the population. Among the more colorful of these were four thieves from Marseilles who while plundering for treasures protected themselves with garlic and a concoction of herbs extracted in vinegar. The tale is a fascinating exploration of herbal lore, but there are so many versions of the story that it is up to you to choose which to believe.

Nostradamus, 1503-1566, was a famous doctor and prophet who not only survived the plague but cured many others with what came to be known as the famous "rose petal pills." In fact, we do not know very much about the lozenges. They might have included rose hips, a rich source of natural vitamin C, as well as sawdust from green cypress, iris of Florence, cloves, odorated calamus, and perhaps some lign-aloes. Nostradamus owned a perfume manufacturing enterprise, which in his time meant distillation of plants to make essential oils. People who worked in these facilities did not succumb to the plague . . . and we are just now emerging from our skepticism in such a way as to enable us to understand what is so effective about these highly concentrated aromatic oils.

This formula is so popular in herbal circles that some people have organized "Four Thieves" parties where groups of people produce big batches of the formula during times of epidemics. There are, as one might imagine, many versions of the formula, all, of course, claimed to be authentic.

The famous French aromatherapy doctor, Jean Valnet, has two recipes in his book. He claims the original recipe was revealed by corpse robbers who were caught red-handed in the area around Toulouse in 1628-1631. His story is the more credible of the many one can find. Given the virulence and deadliness of the plague, the judges were astonished by the indifference of the thieves to contagion. Valnet quotes the archives of the Parliament of Toulouse:

During the Great Plague, four robbers were convicted of going to the houses of plague victims, strangling them in their beds and then looting their dwellings. For this, they were condemned to be burned at the stake, and in order to have their sentence mitigated, they revealed their secret preservative, after which they were hanged.

Given the source, I choose to believe the Valnet account, but there have obviously been many spins of the tale. Here is the recipe stated to be the original:
Original Recipe for Four Thieves Formula
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

Dr. Valnet has a variation of his own described as an antiseptic vinegar:
Marseilles Vinegar or Four Thieves Vinegar

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 it is poison!)

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, i.e., his formula 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 had a slightly different story and a variation of the formula that is clearly American, not French. His "Four Thieves" story is that there was a man named Richard Forthave who developed a remedy for the plague that was marketed under his name, a name which was corrupted to "Four Thieves." There might indeed have been grave robbers who used this remedy to protect themselves while they divested corpses of treasures they would no longer need. The King of France had the thieves arrested and they bought their freedom with the remedy they had been using. Thus, the remedy did not fall into obscurity and has been used for centuries since to protect against contagion.

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

Mix the ingredients well!

*Due to new restrictions on comfrey for internal use, it is suggested that slippery elm be substituted for this ingredient.

How to make the concentrates:

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.

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

Here is another version, much simpler to make, offered by one of my colleagues, Karen Vaughn, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist.
1 pint
unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
5 drops
rosemary oil
5 drops
oregano oil
5 drops
lavender oil
5 drops
sage oil
5 drops
peppermint oil
5 drops
clove oil
4 drops
lemon oil
3 drops
black pepper oil
1 drop
capsicum oil
1 head
garlic finely diced
3 oz
ginger finely sliced
4 oz
echinacea tincture

Warning: Be sure to use unadulterated, therapeutic grade essential oils.


Rosemary, being a strong antiseptic, was one of the choice herbs. Wormwood and rue are the bitterest of herbs. Both are antiseptics and vermifuges (kill worms.) Wormwood has been used internally but can cause convulsions. Lavender and peppermint are high in volatile oils, hence excellent ingredients for a very good insect repellent, as well as being pleasant smelling. Sage, among other good things, is a lymphatic, which is an important fact to remember in case of a bubonic-type disease outbreak. Of course, garlic, as the king of herbs, is a wonder drug. Within its paper-thin wrapping is found a host of beneficial properties, far too many to list. But it does have specific properties that are antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibiotic and, antifungal—chemicals that kill parasites. If I were ever lost in a sick, hostile world, I would not take medicine; I would take garlic. Always keep a sack in your kitchen, and go to the library to learn how to use it.

The Vinegar of the Four Thieves is a super-strong insect repellent. It should be diluted with water to half strength if you spray it directly on your skin. This repellent can be used many ways. Splashed on your socks or shoes will discourage ticks, chiggers, and mites. An herbal cloth kept in your pocket and rubbed on your skin every hour or so would be very beneficial during outdoor work or recreation. Or, a nightly bath with a little herbal vinegar and oil will keep it on your skin for many hours and could prove helpful for families who live in the country or while out on camping trips.

Vinegar of the 4 Thieves

2 quarts of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons lavender

2 tablespoons rosemary

2 tablespoons sage

2 tablespoons wormwood

2 tablespoons rue

2 tablespoons mint

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped garlic

Combine dried herbs (except garlic) and vinegar in a one-gallon jar with lid, and soak in the sun for 2 weeks, shaking often. Then strain out the used herbs, and retain the herbal liquid mixture. Add several cloves of crushed garlic, and close lid. Let soak for three days, and strain out the garlic fiber and discard. This liquid tincture needs to be stored in a cool place, like the refrigerator, or it can be preserved by canning. Fill canning jar with boiling liquid tincture to within one-half inch of top. Cap with rubber seal canning lid, tighten ring, and turn hot jar upside down; leave it undisturbed until it cools to room temperature. This will cause the jar to seal. Don’t forget to date and label it.

Four Thieves Vinegar: Antiviral, Germicide and Possible Alternative for Flu Shots

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 and had 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.

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!

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, 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 was probably something like this:

Use equal parts thyme, rosemary, sage, and lavender. Place herbs in a jar and cover with (apple cider) 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.

NOTE: the four thieves originally used vinegared red wine, not apple cider vinegar.

Natural antiseptics can be made at home instead of buying commercial disinfectants that we are now finding out may cause drug resistance.

During the time of the Black Plague a family of perfumers robbed the dead. As perfumers they knew well the antiseptic essential oils, and they infused them in vinegar and rubbed them on their bodies; by doing so they protected themselves from certain death. The doctors of the time used the same herbs and essential oils to to protect themselves while tending so many who were contagious. They wore big cloaks over their heads that reached down well below their shoulders. Attached to the cloak over the nose and mouth was a 10” long canoe-like shaped beak full of antiseptic herbs and essential oils. Here is the famous Vinegar of The Four Thieves recipe; it is sometimes called Grave Robber’s Blend.

Place a small handful each of dried lavender, rosemary, sage, rue and mint in a large jar, and cover completely with organic apple cider vinegar. Cover tightly and set for six weeks. Strain into a spray bottle. Whereas no home can be made to be sterile, spray the powerfully antiseptic Vinegar of Four Thieves recipe in areas of concern, such as on cutting boards and door knobs, always making sure to avoid your eyes.

I made this and think it works well. Used it for wiping down faucets and handles during a 24hr stomach issue in the house. You do have to wipe it up becasue it is not clear. I suggest purchasing fresh herb plants over time, so you can avoid running all over town looking for the herbs. I think I spent $7 total for a quart. (Or course, i get the added bonus of watching the butterfly larve enjoy the rue plant- Monarchs!)

Four Thieves Vinegar

2 QT Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbls Lavender
2 Tbls Rosemary
2 Tbls Sage
2 Tbls Wormwood
2 Tbls Rue
2 Tbls Mint


The herbs can be fresh, powdered or whole. Please understand and make sure that you know this is absolutely not for drinking. Wormwood can kill a person. And no, I don't care to discuss the joys of absinthe. I am a huge stick in the mud. :-)

Put the herbs in the vinegar. Shake well. Let is sit in the sun for two weeks.

Open. Drop in six cloves of garlic. Cap it. Shake well. Let sit in sun for one week.

Strain. Pour into bottles or jar. Seal with wax or add glycerin to preserve it.

NOTE: How much glycerin would be necessary? Seems to me that the vinegar is a pretty strong preservative all on its own!

FOUR THIEVES:
Four Thieves is some nifty stuff. I am using the oil with good results to date. The Four Thieves vinegar is very good, as well.

FOUR THIEVES VINEGAR: ANTIVIRAL GERMICIDE Possible Alternative for Flu Shots

Herbal lore has it that, while the Plague was raging in France, a rash of burglaries of plague victims’ homes was discovered. No effort was made, however, to apprehend the thieves, as it was assumed that they would soon succumb to the contagion in the homes they had robbed..

The thieves carried on their crime spree for some time, and people began to wonder why they had not become ill and die. It was then that the authorities began to pursue them… to discover the secret of their immunity to the Plague.

Once the burglars had been apprehended, they struck a bargain with the authorities, that they should be set free in exchange for revealing the secret to their immunity to the Plague.

It was then that the four thieves revealed the herbal disinfectant formula that rendered them immune to the Plague.

Current theorists suggest that this formula, now called “Four Thieves Vinegar”, may offer protection against fearsome possible threats, such as the flu, smallpox, and biological weapons, which concern us today, as all of its ingredients are either strong anti-bacterial agents, or have potent anti-viral properties.

FOUR THIEVES VINEGAR

1 part lavender, dried
1 part sage, dried
1 part thyme, dried
1 part lemon balm (melissa), dried
1 part hyssop, dried
1 part peppermint, dried
1 handful garlic cloves
Raw (unpasteurized), organic apple cider vinegar

• In a glass jar, place all dry ingredients.
• Add raw (unpasteurized), organic apple cider vinegar to cover
• Place jar in a cool place and let sit, at room temperature, for six weeks.
• Strain off herbs and garlic, and decant to a glass bottle or jar with a tight fitting lid.

HOW TO USE FOUR THIEVES VINEGAR
• Take a teaspoonful several times daily.
• Add to salads either directly or in a salad dressing.
• For personal protection, add a teaspoonful to bath water.
• Use as a topical spray for disinfecting surfaces and/or skin

ALTERNATIVE FOUR THIEVES VINEGAR
wormwood
meadowsweet
juniper berries
rosemary
camphor
sage
cinnamon
cloves
white wine vinegar

FOUR THIEVES OIL
1 part eucalyptus
1 part rosemary
1 part cinnamon
1 part clove
1 part lemon
Carrier oil (olive, jojoba, or your choice)
Mix

I put 50 drops of each oil in a 2 oz. bottle and then top it off with jojoba oil (I like jojoba oil because it seems to never go rancid).

An alternative recipe:

200 drops Clove Bud Oil
175 drops Lemon Oil
100 drops Cinnamon Oil
75 drops Eucalyptus Oil
50 drops Rosemary

Mix with jojoba oil.

APPLICATIONS:

• Apply 1-2 drops of Four Thieves on the bottoms of the feet and on the nape of the neck.
• Apply under the arms and on the chest.
• Diffuse for 20 minutes or less at work or at home.

A PERSONAL NOTE:

(the writer) I have used Four Thieves for the itch that accompanied a nasty rash that doctors could not diagnose (where is House when you need him?)… I originally applied the Four Thieves oil because I was worried about possible infection after scratching myself bloody in my sleep. The Four Thieves smarted quite a bit when I first applied it, but, then, miraculously, the itch subsided and allowed me to have a life. Although the rash did not disappear, it did diminish markedly every time I applied the oil.

some of my sources for this blog post:
http://prettysmartnaturalideas.wordpress.com/2007/12/11/four-thieves-vinegar-oil-recipes/
www.care2.com/greenliving/vinegar-of-the-four-thieves.html
www.theherbgardener.blogspot.com/2008/01/four-thieves-vinegar.htm
www.advance-health.com/fourthievesvinegar.htm
http://www.kitchendoctor.com/articles/four_thieves.html
http://www.killerplants.com/whats-in-a-name/20030718.asp

once i make and begin to use this i will update you on my review of the product from my own personal experience. until then, if any of you have already had some experience with it please feel free to share with us in the comments section below.
thank you
:)
stay well!!!


snowdrop





Disclaimer: The information in this article and on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. None of the products mentioned in this article or on this website are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained from a medical professional. This information is made available with the understanding that the author and publisher are not providing medical, psychological, or nutritional counseling services on this site. The information on this Web site does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, and interactions. Liability for individual actions or omissions based upon the contents of this site is expressly disclaimed. This information has not been evaluated or approved by the U.S. FDA.

7 comments:

  1. Young Living makes an oil called Thieves that I've used for years. Smells wonderful! But, I never knew the full story behind it until now. Thank you for doing the research.

    Here's what YL says about it:
    Thieves® was created based on research about four thieves in France who covered themselves with cloves, rosemary, and other aromatics while robbing plague victims. This proprietary essential oil blend was university tested for its cleansing abilities. It is highly effective in supporting the immune system and good health.

    Thieves® oil blend is an integral ingredient in Thieves® Household Cleaner, Thieves® Spray, Thieves® Wipes, Thieves® Lozenges, Thieves® Dentarome Plus™ and Thieves® Dentarome Ultra™ toothpastes, and Thieves® Fresh Essence Plus™ Mouthwash.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ha. REALLY Interesting stuff. ( :
    I love the old clipping.

    XOXO
    Rebecca

    Purely Delicious
    Raw Food Magazine

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Young Living Thieves is amazing - I have used it and eradicated all kinds of maladies in my house almost overnight. It also got rid of black mold from diffusing it. And it smells great! You can get it here: www.youngliving.org/energyhealing

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, I am working on a gallon for my family.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well-- it seems like a lot of work for a cleaning agent.. however with all these people giving mad props about it I may have to try it. We've been lucky to stay pretty healthy this season, but it never hurts to be prepared!
    -Sylvia
    Ananta Watches

    ReplyDelete
  6. My sisters and I have been making and using thieves oil since the early 1980s. This stuff works! From the viewpoint of a chemist -- there is good science behind the properties of each essential oil and solid reasons why a good blend of therapeutic grade essential oils is such a panacea. It's a shame that Young's is aggressively pursuing the right to be the only seller of this ancient remedy... No one person or company should have the corner on thieves oil -- it's something that is for the good of all; not just the profits of one large corporation. Sounds like an anti-trust issue eventually. I hope everyone out there makes their own or finds a reputable essential oil distributor -- there are several on ebay -- Good Luck and Stay Healthy!!!

    ReplyDelete