The Secret of the Thieves

Take a few steps back in history and learn about a band of thieves that used essential oils, or "aromatics", as they were called, to keep from getting a dreaded disease that was rampaging across Europe at that time.

During the Black Plague of the 15th century France, a small band of thieves were caught in the act and brought before the King, who forced them to reveal a most curious secret...They had been entering the homes of plague victims and robbing the dead and dying of money, jewelry and anything else of value that could be found. Although the plague was highly contagious, not one of this morbid band ever contracted the dreaded disease, even though their thefts had put them in daily contact with plague victims.

The King, eager to protect himself and the Royal Family, demanded to know how the thieves had avoided contracting the plague. Being threatened with death, the thieves told the King the truth. They were all members of the same family - a family from a long line of Apothecaries and spice traders. Because of their intimate knowledge of the healing arts passed down from generation to generation, they were familiar with a combination of specific plant oils that, when rubbed on the body, would protect them from contracting this most feared and deadly disease. The King forced the thieves to reveal the specific plant oils used, and the formula for extracting them from the plants. With that vital information in hand, the King was thereby able to protect himself and his family from the deadly plague.

This is just one of many versions of this story that is still being told today.


The recipe for the "Thieves Oils" can still be found in the Royal English Archives to this day. What's more, this story is not all that unusual. In fact, it is widely known that many perfumers and tanners in 15th century England were also able to escape the "Black Plague" due to the fact that the powerful, sweet smelling plant oils that they used in the making of various perfumes and in the scenting of leather goods exhibited phenomenal antimicrobial properties.

Lavender farm for making essential oils, some of which saved the lives of thieves from the pague of 16th century England.

History further reveals that virturally the entire town of Bucklersbury, England was spared from the plague, even while the residents of other towns in close proximity were dying in droves. How were the residents of Bucklersbury spared? Historians believe it was no fluke. This fortunate town was the center of the European lavender trade. Lavender is a plant, the essential oil of which is widely used in making perfume. More important, the oil of lavender has long been known to have powerful disease fighting properties. In fact, recent scientific and medical research has proven that the essential oil of lavender has immune stimulating and anti-microbial properties that rival and even surpass many modern antiseptic chemicals and antibiotic drugs.

You can order lavender oil from many essential oil suppliers. Or even get the oils for the "Thieves" type blend and make it yourself, (recipes below). It would make a great gift for family members and loved ones...Just letting them know you care about their health and well being. You can also purchase books on essential oils and learn the "art of blending", which would be a fun hobby and also give you a slight edge over many germs.

~The Thieves' Oil Recipes ~

If you are familiar with essential oils, you might want to make your own similar Blend of oils used by the thieves. Here are two of my favorite recipes:

If you want to make a larger amount of these oil blends, just increase the amount of "parts" you would any recipe.

Recipe # 1:

  • 2 parts - Clove oil, (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • 2 parts - Lemon oil, (Citrus limon)
  • 1/2 part - Cinnamon oil, (Cinnamomum verum)
  • 1 part - Eucalyptus oil, (Eucalyptus radiata)
  • 1 part - Rosemary oil, (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Recipe # 2:
  • 2 parts - Clove oil, (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • 1 part - Rosemary oil, (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • 2 parts - Eucalyptus globulus oil, (Eucalyptus, globulus)
  • 1 part - Eucalyptus radiata oil, (Eucalyptus radiata)
  • 2 parts - Cinnamon leaf, (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) or 1/2 part - Cinnamon bark, (Cinnamomum verum)
  • 2 parts - Lemon oil, (Citrus limon)

Blend all of the oils together in a small dark-colored bottle for safe keeping. The longer the oils set, the more they will blend and meld together. Store this bottle in a cool, dark place. It should last at least a couple of years that way.

Use when needed for purifying the air, like in an infuser or atomizer. You can also put a few drops in a pan of hot steamy water on the stove to get the molecules into the air.

Put a few drops in a spray bottle of water for disinfecting surfaces.

Blend a few drops into a carrier oil like olive, almond, coconut, etc., to make your own protective perfume.

CAUTION!: Please be careful with these oils, since some of them will irritate the skin if too strong. That's why the importance of dilution. ALWAYS dilute your oils....never use straight on your skin! A little bit goes a very long way!

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Since 1987

Return to the Aromatherapy Page from this Thieves History Page.