What is Thieves oil? Top Benefits, Uses & How to Make It

Thieves oil is a blend of five essential oils that help to boost the immune system, improve wound healing, and provide pain relief. This oil blend has potent antibacterial, antiseptic, and disinfectant properties. Also known as the four thieves blend, this versatile oil blend can be used to treat coughs and cold and for cleaning in the house.

What is thieves oil?

Thieves oil is a blend of five beneficial essential oils – cinnamon essential oil, clove essential oil, rosemary essential oil,  eucalyptus essential oil, and lemon essential oil. It has a spicy and earthy fragrance. These oils provide this blend with antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and immune-stimulating properties.


1. Cinnamon essential oil

It is extracted from the bark of the Cinnamomum verum and Cinnamomum cassia tree and has strong antibacterial, antifungal, antidiabetic and antioxidant properties. It is known for its ability to improve circulation and digestion.

2. Clove essential oil

Clove essential oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has traditionally been used as an antimicrobial, as a pain reliever, for digestive upset and to relieve cough and asthma.

3. Eucalyptus essential oil

This essential oil has potent anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, deodorant, and antiseptic qualities. It soothes physical discomforts, fights bacterial infections, and supports the respiratory system. 

4. Lemon essential oil

This oil has astringent, detoxifying, disinfectant, antifungal, and calming properties. It helps to enhance your mood and ease stress. It is also a natural cleanser.

5. Rosemary essential oil

Rosemary essential oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps to stimulate hair growth, strengthen the immune system, reduce pain and inflammation, and treat headaches.

The history of Thieves oil

The date and place of the origin of the ‘Vinegar of four thieves’ ranges from 1413 somewhere in Europe to 1630 Toulouse to 1722 Marseilles. This oil has an interesting story about how and why it was developed.

According to a legend, this mixture was developed during the 15th century when a deadly plague was spreading across Europe.  A group of spice traders turned into thieves during this time. The four thieves were protected from the virulent germs of the highly contagious plague as they robbed the bodies and even entered the homes of the dying plague victims.

During their grave robbing and plundering, the king’s men caught these four thieves. Standing before the king, the thieves disclosed the secret of their immunity in exchange for a lenient sentence. After learning the secret formula of the four thieves, the king had the recipe of the ‘thieves oil’ posted throughout the city.

How to make the thieves oil blend?

You can make a thieves oil blend at home with this recipe. Make sure that you add a carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil to the ratio of one drop of thieves oil to 5 to 10 drops of carrier oil.


  • Clove essential oil – 40 drops
  • Lemon essential oil – 35 drops
  • Cinnamon bark essential oil – 20 drops
  • Eucalyptus essential oil – 15 drops
  • Rosemary essential oil – 10 drops


Mix all the essential oils in a dark glass bottle. Store it in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Health benefits of thieves essential oil

1. Boosts immunity

All the ingredients in thieves essential oil have antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.  This oil is famous for its protective effects against the plague during ancient times. Studies have shown that its ingredients have strong infection-fighting properties.

According to a 2017 study, cinnamon and clove oil have high antimicrobial activity against Borrelia burgdorferi, which is known to cause Lyme disease (1). Eucalyptus oil also has antibacterial effects against many bacteria, including mycobacterium tuberculosis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, viruses, and fungi (2).

2. Helps in wound healing

This essential oil blend can assist in wound healing by disinfecting the wound and slowing down bleeding, alleviating pain, and reducing inflammation. Many of the ingredients in thieves oil like cinnamon and rosemary have properties that help in healing minor cuts, scrapes, and burns (3).

According to a 2009 study, topical application of cinnamaldehyde, a major component of cinnamon oil, promotes faster healing of skin wounds, thanks to its antimicrobial properties (4). A 2018 study showed that a unique emulsion of eucalyptus oil could improve wound-healing in rats (5).

According to a study published in Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine and Biotechnology, in 2019, rosemary essential oil has antibacterial properties and accelerated wound healing, so it is useful in the treatment of infected wounds (6).

3. Provides pain relief

Thieves oil can help in pain relief. Several of its components help in relieving inflammation and have a cooling effect on muscles. Clove oil contains eugenol, which is known to relieve toothache. It is also an excellent pain reliever for muscles and joints.

Eucalyptus oil can also help to reduce pain and inflammation linked with many conditions. It may help people with back pain or those recovering from a joint or muscle injury. According to the 2019 study from Korea, eucalyptus oil helps reduce inflammation and pain and can be used as a therapeutic agent (7).

The lemon essential oil can also be used as an analgesic. According to a 2014 animal-based study, inhalation of lemon oil changed the way the brain of the mice responded to painful stimuli (8).

4. Boosts mood

Studies have shown that essential oils can boost mood and relieve fatigue. Lemon essential oil clarifies the mind, dispels anger, and provides a sense of new energy. It is also a stimulant and antibacterial, which means it has natural purification properties.

The cinnamon essential oil has tonic and aphrodisiac properties. It stimulates the senses with its powerful aroma, which helps to boost mood. According to a 2012 study, inhalation of rosemary oil improves brainwave activity and autonomic nervous system activity and boosts mood (9).

Ways to use thieves essential oil

1. Use a diffuser

Diffusing Thieves oil in the morning is a great way to start the day. Diffusion allows the essential oil to spread throughout the room and boost mood, promote alertness, and reduce stress and anxiety.

2. Inhale steam

Add a few drops of thieves oil to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. The hot water helps to vaporize the oil. Place a towel over your head and lean over the bowl to inhale the steam. Steam inhalation with thieves oil will help you to deal with any respiratory issues.

3. Massage with it

You can dilute thieves oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil and massage with it. Apply it to your upper chest and throat for chest tightness. Massaging a few drops of this oil on the soles of the feet protects from cold and flu. Massage it on painful joints for pain relief.

4. Add it to lotions and creams

You can also add thieves oil to lotions and creams, which help in soothing, cleansing, and wound healing. It also helps to remove skin blemishes.

5. Clean your home

Thieves oil makes a great household cleaner. You can use it to clean any surface in your home. Add around 10 to 15 drops to an ounce of water and pour it into a spray bottle. Shake well and spray on the surface that you want to clean. You can also put a few drops in your dishwasher for cleaner dishes. This mixture also repels insects on your flowers and plants.

6. Make tea

Add one drop of thieves oil to a cup of warm water. Mix in one teaspoon of honey. Enjoy this wellness tea whenever you need a boost.

Side effects of thieves oil

While thieves oil has many benefits, misusing it can lead to side effects. It contains several different essential oils that can have side effects. Clove oil and cinnamon oil can cause skin irritation. Always dilute thieves essential oil with a carrier oil before using it. Do a patch test if you are applying it for the first time. If you notice swelling, irritation, or redness, stop using it immediately.


Many citrus oils like lemon oil contain furocoumarins, which can cause chemical burns when exposed to the sun’s UV rays. Avoid going out in the sun after applying thieves oil on your skin. You should also use this oil judiciously. Overuse can lead to an allergy over time. Once you become sensitized, you will forever be allergic to the oil.

Final thoughts

Thieves oil is a blend of five beneficial essential oils – cinnamon essential oil, clove essential oil, rosemary essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil,  and lemon essential oil. It has a spicy and earthy fragrance.  These oils provide this blend with antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and immune-stimulating properties.  It helps to boost the immune system, aid in wound healing, and provide pain relief and boosts mood and eases anxiety.

You can diffuse thieves oil, massage with it, add it to creams and lotions, make wellness tea with it, and use it as a cleaning agent. However, make sure that before you use it on your skin, you dilute it with a carrier oil. Incorrect usage can lead to side effects like rashes, redness, itching, and chemical burns. Always buy your thieves oil blend from a reputable source.


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