DIY Thieves Oil for Colds and Flu

DIY Thieves Oil for Colds and Flu
Thieves Oil is an old-time essential oils recipe that was used during the Black Death of 1348 by robbers who sought to avoid catching the bubonic plague.

We're getting ready for winter by preparing some of our favorite natural remedies. Along with Homemade Elderberry Syrup, Thieves Oil is an important part of our all-natural flu season arsenal.

Thieves Oil (also known as Four Thieves Oil) is an old-time essential oils recipe that was used during the Black Death of 1348 by robbers who sought to avoid catching the bubonic plague while they stole from people who'd fallen ill with the disease.

It's a mixture of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils, each containing powerful antiviral, antibiotic, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties. Here's a quick explanation of why these oils work to treat and prevent sickness:

Thieves essential oil blend is effective against the flu virus and infectious diseases. When the virus enters the body, it is attached to our cells and then engulfed into the cells. The virus then integrates into our genomes and activate our cells to reproduce. Thieves oil does not affect the attachment of virus to cells. It does not affect the proliferation in our cells. But, it blocks the protein synthesis of the virus, thus it can’t be spread. Other essential oils also have these types of properties. ~ Dr. H.K. Lin, renowned essential oils in medicine expert

How to Make and Use Thieves Oil

I like to make two batches: one with just the essential oils, and another pre-diluted concoction that I can apply directly to the skin (essential oils are too potent to use on the skin without diluting in a carrier oil). A few drops of the undiluted mix works well in my essential oil diffuser to help control viruses and bacteria in the air (I normally diffuse essential oils for 30 minutes at a time, then switch to plain water for several hours. Repeat as necessary).

It also doubles as a simple inhalation treatment when someone in my family has a cough or congestion. The diluted mix is used to treat and prevent illness from outside the body through skin absorption. I normally apply it to the soles of the feet and the spine a few times a day or as needed.

First, A Few Notes On Safety:

This particular mix of essential oils is generally considered safe for use with children six years and older. Consider removing the eucalyptus oil and substituting Eucalyptus Radiata for kids ages 2-6 and lemon or oregano oil for kids 3 months-2 years.

Never apply the potent undiluted oil directly to the skin. And even the diluted oil should never be applied near the face because Thieves Oil contains a large amount of clove oil.

Be sure to use 100% pure, certified organic essential oils when available to make sure you’re not absorbing or inhaling extremely concentrated amounts of harmful chemicals or pesticides used during the growing process.

Always keep essential oils out of reach of children.

Pre-diluted Thieves Oil Recipe (Makes 1 oz)

Pure Essential Thieves Oil Recipe

  • Clove oil – 1 Tbsp
  • Lemon oil – 1 Tbsp
  • Cinnamon Bark oil – 2 tsp
  • Eucalyptus oil – 1.5 tsp (substitute lemon or oregano oil for children 3 months-2 years and be sure to use Eucalyptus Radiata for children under age 6)
  • Rosemary oil – 1.5 tsp

Store both recipes in dark glass jars with roller applicators or dropper lids for easy use.

P.S. Be sure to check out our DIY vapor chest rub and tips for treating your baby's fever naturally.

DIY Thieves Oil

26 comments
  1. My daughter is allergic to Rosemary and I am allergic to cinnamon. Is there anything we can use in place of these 2 oils for a comparative effect?

    1. Sure, Candra! Tea Tree, Thyme, Oregano and Peppermint essential oils are all great alternatives to Rosemary and Cinnamon because they contain comparable antiviral and antibacterial properties. You could even use more of the other oils in the recipe, like Lemon and Eucalyptus, to achieve the same results. ~Laura

        1. It depends on what we’re looking for, but we always try to go with Certified Organic essential oils. Now Foods and Aura Cacia offer organic oils, so we tend to use them most often. Mountain Rose Herbs has some amazing organic options too. ~Alicia

        2. First. I would like to thank the author for sharing information that helps to educate on the benefits of using essential oils to support our health. Over the counter oils can say Certified organic and only have 10% of the real oil in the bottle. If you are using essential oils to support your health you should make sure you have the best quality possible.
          Young Living is the only company with a seed to seal guarantee. I trust this company as they own their own farms and control everything that goes into the bottles.

  2. I wish I didn’t have to skip the eucalyptus oil but I’m allergic. I often use peppermint oil during cold and flu season because I find it helps open up my sinuses and helps with headaches.

  3. I am new to EOs and I really want to try thieves; however, I have never prepared a DIY recipe. Do you just drop each ingredient into a clean bottle and then shake or stir? Does shaking harm the oils? Forgive me if these are silly questions!

    1. That’s right, Tina! Just dump ’em all in and shake them
      together. I don’t know of any reason why shaking would damage the oils, but there’s really no need to do more than a couple up and down shakes and swirls to mix things up sufficiently. ~Laura

      1. Thank you for the reply! I have ordered the necessary oils that I didn’t already have, I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you again!

  4. Is this recipe supposed to call for 6 tsp olive oil which fits in a 1 ounce bottle rather than 6 Tbsp? I would assume it’s a typo but just want to be sure so I don’t make it too strong. Thanks!

  5. Would really appreciate an answer to the Candice W’s Q about the amount of oil: does the recipe call for 6 teaspoons of olive oil or 6 tablespoons?

  6. How many drops of the pre diluted thieves oil should. Be applied daily during cold season and how many drops if you are actively fighting a cold?

    1. Hi Sara, Thieves Oil is quite potent, so I use 2-4 drops on the spine or soles of the feet a few days a week during cold season. If someone has an active illness, I’ll normally double that amount and use most days of the week (especially after bathing or showering) .

      Note: I’d use about half these amounts for a small child.

      In addition, I’ll put a few drops in my essential oil diffuser and/or the little tray on top of my humidifier at night as well for anyone fighting sickness. ~Laura

  7. Hi Cindy, It’s not safe to put undiluted essential oils directly onto the skin. They’re very concentrated and can cause extreme skin irritation, but you can place a 1 drop in a tablespoon of carrier oil (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, etc) to make it safe for use on your skin.

  8. Just a few (3-4) drops in boiling water for 30 minutes at a time. Then switch to plain water for a few hours before diffusing your essential oil for another 30 minutes if needed. As for your Thieves Oil, you can check the ingredients to see if it’s diluted. If the first ingredients is a carrier oil or water, then it’s safe to spray on the soles of the feet. It can be pretty potent, so a squirt on each one should do the trick!

  9. Hi, my 3 year old and 1 month old baby just got the flu… I never used EO before, but I saw your post and went to get all the oils for this recipe. I got the cinnamon leaf instead of the bark (as suggested by the lady at the store… is this ok??) and got the oregano oil instead of the eucalyptus since I have my baby… but the lady at the store said I shouldn’t use EO with kids under 3 years old…. but here it say it’s safe for kids under 2… so how young is too young? Can I use this on my 1 month old to relive his stuffiness and cough or is he too young? If yes, how much would you suggest?? Thanks in advance.

  10. Hi Nadine, We very carefully diffuse eo’s with our babies, but there’s a general consensus that you should avoid using them with babies under 3 months, just to be extra safe. I’ve also added that to the article. With babies 3 months and over, you can diffuse a couple drops of the thieves oil mixture (without eucalyptus) in plenty of water for only 30 minutes at a time. Then turn off your diffuser and for a minimum of 30 minutes. Longer if you feel the scent is very strong. And yes, cinnamon bark is fine. ~Laura

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