The History and Healing of Thieves Essential Oil

March 15th, 2012 · 17 Comments · essential oils

During the winter months there’s always a sickness being passed around the office or school and, depending on how well your immune system is prepared, you could be the next victim. This winter I saw a trend in the people I knew: several of them were using Thieves Essential Oil from Young Living in a variety of forms. I was curious to know the story behind the name and also why this oil was so powerful in keeping their immune systems of healthy. It was interesting research to get the full story and here we’d like to share the abbreviated version of this essential oil and why its blend of herbs is still popular today after hundreds of years!

The History of Thieves Essential Oil

The history and healing of Thieves essential oil is an interesting tale!

The history and healing of Thieves essential oil is an interesting tale!

While there are a few versions of the story they all center around one event, the Bubonic Plague. It is said that, during that time, four thieves went from house to house to rob those who had succumbed to the illness. After the thieves were captured and tried for their acts of robbery, a judge offered leniency if they would share how they were able to be around those afflicted long and often enough to rob them but not be affected by the illness. It’s interesting to note here that, during this time of the plague striking Europe, physicians were seen wearing long black robes, wide brimmed hats, and masks that appeared to have a beak. The reason for doing this is that the masks were said to have contained a combination of herbs, spices, and essential oils that the physicians would breathe in order to keep themselves safe from those afflicted with the illness. Their long black robes were also said to be doused in a similar fragrant concoction and current research continues to build upon this theory.

The Healing of Thieves Essential Oil

How did the thieves stay healthy and what were the herbs, spices, and essential oils used in the masks of the physicians?

There are as many recipes as there are theories for which aromatics were used during the time: some accounts say vinegar with a blend of sage, rosemary, rue, camphor, garlic, and cloves was best while other accounts say that garlic, cloves, and cinnamon were used. More mysterious than the original protective recipe is the actual story of how the blend came to be called “Thieves”. In 1966 a book called Nature’s Medicines was published and outlined a story that a man named Richard Forthave created a preparation of vinegar and garlic meant to taken as a medicine during times of outbreak. Did the four thieves exist or was the origination of this blend from a man who, through the passing of time and stories, had his surname corrupted to Four Thieves? We may never know.

What we do know, through extensive use and trial with the Thieves essential oil blend from Young Living is that a powerful combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary have been found to be strong enough to reduce bacterial cultures by 99.96%! This blend was created after years of research results indicated that most viruses, fungi, and bacteria cannot live in the presence of some essential oils. While I’ve seen the use of Thieves in room sprays (by combining distilled water with 15 drops of the oil) or by rubbing a few drops of the oil on the soles of the feet, there is an entire line of products which highlight the blend. Other way to attain the healing benefit of Thieves is to add the blend to a diffuser, use the lozenges, or even add one drop to a glass of water to drink.

The legend behind the oil is as unique as the healing powers it can provide to your system. While the product is more expensive than what you may expect for a small bottle of oil, the germ-killing power of Thieves is worth every penny and not only during the cold weather months when cold and flu strike. If you use an anti-bacterial soap in your kitchen or bathroom year-round, why not consider making it Thieves Foaming Hand Soap without all the harsh chemicals? Young Living also created Thieves toothpastes and even a household cleaner containing the powerful blend!  I’ve seen the benefits of Thieves myself and have used the product recently to help keep my immune system strong while others around me experienced a nasty virus and am pleased to say that I didn’t catch it. While I take good care of my body, I can’t help but wonder if those four thieves had something to do with it too.

Want to learn more about how essential oils can help boost your mood, assist in getting better sleep, and DIY recipes for insect repellents? Check out our other blog posts!


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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Healing with Essential Oils and Staff Favorites

    […] is almost as excited about the story behind Thieves as the product. Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary oils are blended together to make […]

  • Olga

    That’s awesome to hear. I just finished rubbing a cold bomb combo on my boyfriends feet, he got sniffles.

  • SandyWT

    Thanks for the info.
    The aroma of the oils probably repelled the fleas that caused the plague. When I checked the cheap natural spray that I bought for my dogs (and works very well against fleas), I noticed that the ingredients included similar oils as in thieves oil.

    • Star

      Thanks for your comment SandyWT. The issue with cheap oils is that they are usually processed with chemicals and additives that you would not want to put on your (or your pets’) skin. You usually get what you pay for with essential oils. A high quality one will be pure and last a long time.

    • Info

      What you seem to have overlooked is that essential oils are harmful to pets. They are actually fatal to cats. It is beyond me why the Young Living brochures promote putting oils on cats and dogs. Whenever we inhale something it goes into our lungs and then into our bloodstream, then our blood is purified in our liver through certain liver enzymes. Cats do not have the liver enzymes necessary to metabolize essential oils, so the oils are toxic to them. The oils from trees are particularly poisonous, as are peppermint and the citrus oils. When the oils are applied to cats or diffused, the cats inhale them constantly, but cannot metabolize them. The cat will die in a very short time of toxicity. It is a very torturous death. Dogs are only slightly tolerant of essentials oils. If one is going to use these oils, they have to be responsible enough to research the effects.

      • Star

        There seems to be a lot of controversy about using essential oils for animals, especially cats. Not all oils are toxic to them and it does seem that, like everything else, the way they are processed and the purity makes a difference. Do your research if you want to use essential oils on your animals.

      • Marisa

        Last I checked, essential oils, humans, and animals, are all part of nature… It is not true that all essential oils are bad for pets. Though, per variety of animal, there are oils they are more sensitive to or that are toxic to them.

  • Randi

    It’s actually not expensive! Thieves Household Cleaner is a concentrate. For most all-purpose cleaning, dilute 30 parts of water to 1 part of Thieves Household Cleaner. That breaks down to one 64 oz bottle of Thieves Household Cleaner concentrate = about 128 all-purpose spray bottles (30 oz. each) for about 88 cents a bottle. That’s cheaper than most all-natural cleaners on the market.

  • Stay Healthy When Flying

    […] by Essential Oils. The only problem is I really hate the name “Thieves”. Yes, I know the origin, but I think it’s stupid. That’s just me. I don’t know if it actually bothers anyone else. […]

  • Kacy Fletcher

    Hi Star,
    It’s a really polarizing name – some people are against it and others think it is really intriguing. Me, personally, not a big fan, but just love love the actual fragrance and the properties – so I guess that’s a yes too!
    Thanks for an amazing website!

  • Christine

    Hi All,

    I have been encountering more stress than usual and I usually get a sore throat, I started putting a drop under my nose and on my feet, no more sore throat…

  • Elaine

    I used Thieves on my husbands Heals for two nights and in the diffuser as he was sick with flu like symptoms. Day 3 he is now a true believer of Thieves. Also so far I have not caught it. 😉 I have since joined up with youngliving just to support my own habit of the oils I LOVE.

  • Reginald

    I heard about Oil of Oregano as as anti-viral. I have found it to be a “beneficial” essential oil against the flu and colds. I have suggested its use to others with good feedback. I recently heard about Oil of Thieves and read the story of its origin. I am intrigued and will give this essential oil a try. After all, what would pharmaceutical companies do without plants?

  • Almika Potts

    My husband and I sell young living..we sware by thieves.. i have a four yr old and she started with the sniffles and with in 2o minutes all gone. love it

  • Person

    My mom uses young living essential oils all the time!

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