>Four Thieves’ Vinegar

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Continuing with poor King Alphonso XI … he died of the bubonic plague on the island of Gibralter in 1350. Perhaps some garlic could have saved him. Garlic was a major ingredient in Four Thieves’ Vinegar, a protection against the plague, so named because during an outbreak in Marseilles in 1726, four thieves who were arrested for robbing corpses credited their immunity to wearing masks soaked in vinegar, garlic and other herbs.

The image above is the costume worn by Plague Doctors who visited victims of the plague to verify if they had been afflicted. The “beak” was filled with herbs to purify the air that the doctors breathed. (The stick was to push away patients who got too close.) Nostradamus was a noted Plague Doctor.

As flu season approaches, here’s a recipe for Four Thieves Vinegar — you can also purchase Thieves Oil at health food stores.

Take lavender, rosemary, sage, wormwood, rue, and mint, of each a large handful; put them in a pot of earthen ware, pour on them four quarts of very strong vinegar, cover the pot closely, and put a board on the top; keep it in the hottest sun two weeks, then strain and bottle it, putting in each bottle a clove of garlic. When it has settled in the bottle and become clear, pour it off gently; do this until you get it all free from sediment.

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