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Oil of the Five Thieves
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Oil of the Five Thieves

Oil of the Five Thieves

Lately a lot of people have been asking me about Thieves Oil. It is actually an oil combination that I use a lot. Not only is it’s aroma one of my favorites, very uplifting and powerful, I also find that it is a very useful combination. I first came across Thieves Oil when it was left in my truck after a long camping trip. It was in a vial with a handmade label that said “Thieves.” It was intoxicating. I was instantly a fan. This lead me to do a little research and I found that the recipe was easily found on the website and until recently I only remembered the brief version of the story that I read when I first found the recipe on a Young Living website.


Recently I have found that there are several different versions of the story and that what I have been using isn’t really the “original recipe.” There are a lot of variations of herbs and oils that are used to boost immune system and protect against disease.

The earliest story I have been able to find evidence of regarding the four thieves was published in 1825 Pharmacologia. After recounting the story of the aromatic vinegar used by the four thieves of Marseilles, it goes on to note that, “It was, however, long used before the plague of Marseilles, for it was the constant custom of Cardinal Wolsey to carry in his hand an orange, deprived of its contents, and filled with a sponge which had been soaked in vinegar impregnated with various spices, in order to preserve himself from infection, when passing through the crowds which his splendour or office attracted.

The first plaque raged in 1649, whereas Wolsey died in 1531.” The Pharmacologia then sites the French Codex and The German Dispensatories as possible earlier sources of the vinegar recipes.

This story is that during the plagues of the middle ages spice traders found themselves often without work as the country was sick and the spice traders were forced to take up another trade, scavenging. These scavenging spice raiders became thieves as they realized that they could use their spices to protect them from catching the sickness. With sick areas abandoned by the well, fearing that they would catch the sickness themselves. The four thieves became pawn brokers overnight, until the King found out.

It is Jean Valnet (1920-1995) who first told the story advertising it’s influence on essential oils. Valnet quotes the archives of the Parliament of Toulouse. He claims the original recipe was revealed by corpse robbers who were caught red-handed in the area around Toulouse in 1628-1631. Given the virulence and deadliness of the plague, the judges were astonished by the indifference of the thieves to contagion. The thieves were sentenced to burning at the stake for strangling victims before they robbed them. In order to save themselves from the fire, according to Valnet, they gave the following recipes to the King, after which they were hanged mercifully.

Original Recipe for Four Thieves Formula

3 pintswhite wine vinegar
handfuljuniper berries
handfulwild marjoram
2 oz.elecampane root
2 oz.angelica
2 oz.rosemary
2 oz.horehound
3 gcamphor

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.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


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. Of course there are other stories in the long line of oil and salve salesmen there is the famous Dr. Christopher who used the story to promote the health effects of Garlic. And garlic may have been the most important part of the original recipe. Dr. Christopher told the story of the “four thieves.”

Others claim that a man named Richard Forthave developed and sold the preparation, and that the “medicine” was originally referred to as Forthave’s. However, with the passing of time, his surname became corrupted to Four Thieves.” (Lucas, 1966, p. 38)

Fast forward to 1996 and the Dr Gary Young who promotes his oil company Young Living today developed a five oil mixture that is often called “Thieves Oil” and though many of the ingredients are different than what is depicted by Jean Valdet, this is the recipe that I seem to have come across. And it has a lot of uses.


I call it the oil of the Five Thieves, because of the five oils and the obviously magical significance of this combination of oils.

Five Thieves Formula

Eartha Astrya Pure Clove Bud OilEartha Astraya Pure Lemon OIlEartha Astraya Cinnamon Bark OIlEartha Astraya Pure Eucalyptus OilEartha Astraya Pure Rosemary Oil
10 dropsClove Oil
9 drops Lemon Oil
5 drops Cinnamon Bark
4 drops Eucalyptus
3 drops Rosemary

Alternate Five Thieves Formula and Recommended Alternatives

80 dropsClove Oil
70 drops Lemon Oil
40 drops Cinnamon Bark
30 drops Eucalyptus
20 drops Rosemary
Other oils of choice – including:
Frankincense, Lavender, Oregano, Tea Tree, Ginger
Eartha Astraya Pure Frankinsense OilEartha Astraya Pure Lavender OilEartha Astraya Pure Tea Tree Oil

Using the Five Oils Mixture

There are a huge variety of ways to use this mixture. Everything from ingesting small amounts of it to mixing it with water is mentioned somewhere online. I found many studies including the following two which prove the anti-bacterial properties of these oils. Although there are no studies that used them in this combination and way, it is apparent that MRSA and all kinda of other bacteria can be prevented using the very oils in this mixture.

Lemongrass and Clove Oil are especially strong against MRSA

Many Essential Oils can Kill Bacteria

As an Additive to Moisturizer

I use the five thieves mixture myself on a daily basis. I have added it to almond oil and use it to moisturize my hands and feet after washing and before bed. I also use it on my face if I feel dry though it can be very oily. I add 20 drops of the Five Thieves mixture to a 2.5 ox bottle. You can use any carrier oil you like. I have also used coconut oil. Rubbing the oil on your feet is very powerful as the feet are very important to your immune system health. Healthy feet is one of the first things you should pay attention to when you feel ill. Make sure your feet get plenty of air and are comfortable and warm. Add 7-8 drops of the Five Thieves mixed with your favorite massage oil (I like almond oil) into your hands and rub the oil into your feet. Give your feet a good massage, it is a great way to activate the properties of the oil. As you rub your feet breath deeply and perform Reiki. Imagine clean air entering your body and your feet through your heart and hands with each inhalation and imagine your sickness and the toxins left over from your bodies battle with sickness leaving your body with the breathe of each exhalation.

Almond Oil


The oil can also be ingested orally. One drop on the tongue or spray mixed with water. This is a great fighter against bad breath. It is also reputed to help with sickness and immune dysfunction by helping to purify the body of disease.

As a Cleaner

I add 20 drops of Five Thieves to a bottle of water and use it to refresh the air and clean surfaces. It will work better than most green cleaners I’ve found and kills 99.6% of bacteria. I use it to clean out my ice chests when I’m on the road and I find that it is great for keeping them from getting moldy or smelling bad. The cinnamon oil also repels ants. This is a great multi-purpose cleaner.

Oil of the Five Thieves Spray

I have found The Five Thieves Oil to be one of my favorites to use on a daily basis. If you have any questions please post them here and I will be happy to add the answers to the article.

This article published here with the express permission of

You can find all of the essential oils needed for this recipe in our store.

Also check out our new mini-store with many premixed Thieves Oil mixtures.

  • Lynne Ewing
    Posted at 06:01h, 09 September Reply

    What an interesting story!! I love learning the history of this like this!

  • Jon
    Posted at 18:13h, 14 December Reply

    Five Thieves Oil cleans for the sense of smell, it enlivens, sort of

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