Immunity, Four Thieves Vinegar

There are so many wonderful cold and flu prevention remedies that have been passed down amongst herbalists for centuries. This is my personal variation of a recipe called Four Thieves Vinegar, an infusion of herbs in vinegar, that has been around as a remedy since at least since medieval times.

Four Thieves Vinegar was believed to provide protection from the plague (likely wishful thinking, though garlic and the other herbs in the preparation are antimicrobial), and has almost as many variations on its origin story as its legend.

Classically this remedy four key herbs in it – lavender, sage, mint, and rosemary or thyme. I prefer making mine without the lavender because I don’t love the taste of lavender in my salad dressing – which is how I love to use this blend – making it part of using herbs as both food and medicine.

Here’s the recipe:


  • ¼ cup each of fresh chopped peppermint, rosemary, thyme, and sage leaves
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar

You’ll also need a pint mason jar with a lid.

To Prepare:

  1. Strip the herbs from their stems and chop them on a cutting board. You don’t have to chop them too finely – just enough to release their aromatic scent.
  2. Press or chop the garlic
  3. Place the chopped herbs into the jar and press the garlic into it.
  4. Add enough vinegar to cover the herbs fully and cover the jar.
  5. Refrigerate or leave in a cool place for 5 to 7 days then strain the liquid into a clean glass jar. Discard the herbs and you’ve got your vinegar.

It’s that simple.

To make a salad dressing, mix 2 TBS of the Four Thieves with 2 TBS plain apple cider vinegar and ¼ to ½  cup of olive oil (or tahini!), depending on how sharp you prefer your dressing. Add salt, black pepper, and optionally, 2 tsp raw honey. Mix well. Dress your salad or steamed greens!

You can also use 1 TBS in water and use this as a tonic, but be careful because drinking vinegar every day straight up like that, or even diluted in water, can be hard on your tooth enamel!.

Also, addition important cautions:

  • If you’re pregnant, omit the sage from the recipe; it can cause miscarriage, and don’t use this as a tonic – just enjoy occasionally as a salad dressing ingredient.
  • Sage can also dry up breast milk, so if you’re breastfeeding, it’s okay to use it in salad dressing occasionally, but preferably, just omit the sage from the recipe.

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