Four Thieves Vinegar also known as Marseilles Vinegar, which traditionally is a blend of red wine, white wine, cider, or distilled white vinegar. With the addition of certain herbs, garlic and spices is credited to protect users from the disease, especially, The Plague. The earliest recipe included five specific herbs that were added to vinegar and left to steep for several days. The most notable recipe hung in the
in 1937. Museum
A Little History
Used during the European Black Plague, Four Thieves Vinegar is only one of similar vinegar blends used as medicine back to the time of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician who was born 460 BC, in
and who is considered one of
the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. In ancient Kos, Greece , vinegar was made
from wine as early as 5000 BC where it was used as medicine and to preserve
From ancient times, through the middle ages and into the 18th cen, the use of vinegar was commonly used in the treatment of infection and for the treatment and cure of pleurisy, fever, ulcers, and constipation; it was also used by the ancient Egyptians to kill bacteria. Vinegar combined with honey creates the active ingredient oxymel, which we now know was used to treat the common cough during this time in our history.
One particular recipe called for three pints of white wine vinegar, a man's handful of meadowsweet, wormwood, wild marjoram and sage. To this forty or fifty cloves, two ounces angelica, two ounces campanula roots, two of horehound, two of angelica, two of rosemary and three large measures of camphor along with ample handfuls of garlic. All the herbs were then to be placed in an earthenware container and left to cure for fifteen days. The mixture was then strained and bottled. When approaching a plague victim the parts of the body of the doctor to be washed were the hands, temples, and ears.
Myth & Magic
In the city of
, robbers took advantage of the
population by robbing the dead those who were ill and unable to defend themselves,
especially during the plague. These
devious men were able to be in close contact without fear due to the use of
Four Thieves' Vinegar in which they coated themselves liberally as a defense. Ah but alas, they were eventually apprehended
to which they robbers offered the recipe in exchange for leniency from the
court of which there is no known account.
Another version states that the recipe was developed after their capture
by the robbers themselves in order to survive the sentence of burying the
dead. It seems unlikely that they would
have been granted the time or the ingredients to make this given their crime. Marseille
Magically Four Thieves Vinegar is best known for it's ability to protect the wearer from hexes and reported curses of 'length and strength' by endowing the target with the ability to weaken not only the spell but also the spell weaver creating havoc in their own lives by either taking the recipe by mouth, as an ingredient in a soaking bath or by sprinkling it around home and hearth.
Four Thieves Vinegar is still sold in Provence France and in
where it is called Seven Thieves Vinegar, it's primary use as a variety of
smelling salts for dizziness and fainting. Italy
2 tbsp chopped fresh lavender flowers
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
2 tbsp chopped fresh anise hyssop
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 quart white wine or apple cider vinegar
Mix herbs and garlic in a one-quart ceramic or glass jar, add vinegar filling the jar to 'the shoulder' which allow for expansion of the herbs. Leave in a cool dark place for two-weeks. Using chop sticks or a similar tool, stir the mixture a little everyday to allow the gases to dissipate. After allotted time, strain the vinegar through cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve into a second, sterile 1-quart glass jar and store at room temperature until ready to use. It may be used like salad dressing or to season stews.
1.Illes, Judika (2008). Magic When You Need It. Weiser Books.
2. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy
Scientific American Encyclopedia of Formulas, 1910 Hopkins
5. Legend of Four Thieves Vinegar