Vinegar of The Four Thieves and Other Herbal Recipes for Preventing Flu

The Vinegar of the Four Thieves

This recipe for the vinegar of the Four Thieves has been used for centuries. Legend has it that it was invented during the bubonic plague of the 15th century. How the recipe for the vinegar came to be made public is an interesting story.

In France, the police apprehended four thieves who had been looting the houses of plague victims. Astonished that none of them had fallen ill with the highly infectious disease, the judge agreed to forgive the charges against them if they would reveal how they managed to resist the infection.

"We drink and wash with this vinegar every few hours," they revealed. The recipe follows.

My experience, for what it's worth:  I was director of a student health service clinic a few years ago. One year the flu season "hit early", before any of our staff had gotten the flu shots that were ordinarily relied upon to protect them from the massive exposure that their jobs required.

We were seeing 20-30 students acutely ill with the flu each day. Knowing that we had inadequate protection against the virus, the staff feared we would all soon succumb and, in desperation, decided to give the recipe a try.

Although eight staff members and 4 student workers certainly isn't a large enough group to make a research sample, I'm pleased to report that not a single one of us came down with the flu. We were amazed.

Almost as good....three of us really loved the taste of the preparation and began to cook with it year round, putting it in soups, chili, and stews!

Here's the recipe:

Vinegar of The Four Thieves

2 quarts apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons each of:
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Combine the dried herbs and steep in the vinegar either by placing in the sun for two weeks (preferred) or by boiling the vinegar and letting the herbs steep in it (in a heatproof glass container, never aluminum) for 15 minutes. Strain and bottle the liquid. Add the garlic and close lid. After 3-5 days strain out the garlic.  Adult dosage, 1 teaspoon several times a day, but no more than 3 teaspoons in one hour.

Note: can also use as an antibacterial handwash or diluted in your bathwater. It also works as an excellent wash for floors, countertops, sinks, pots and pans, etc.

Other Herbal Flu Preventatives

I'm not making any guarantees on these, but . . . in case you want to try them here are some herbal recipes for flu prevention that might be worth exploring. They come from Dian Dincin Buchman's classic book,  Herbal Medicine.

Hot and Sour:

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (sea salt preferred)
1 cup boiling water (can substitute boiling chamomile tea)
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Form a paste by grinding together the pepper and salt. Add boiling water. Let cool. Add vinegar. Can dilute with additional water if taste is too strong. Adult dose: one to three teaspoons as frequently as every half hour following possible exposure to the flu.


Add 5 drops of true (essential oil, not a synthetic blend) to a tablespoon of water, and take it several times a day following exposure or at the onset of a flu epidemic in your area.

Note: Cinnamon oil was used extensively by English physicians at the beginning of the 20th century and was thought to be quite effective. Also helps with nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

Whether you try the Vinegar of the Four Thieves and/or the other herbal preventatives or get vaccinated (recommended), use common sense during flu season: avoid crowds, wash hands frequently, eat well, sleep plenty, drink lots of water, and stay home resting when you're ill.

Good luck & stay well!

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