This is the time of year when we all start thinking about protecting ourselves and our homes from flu-causing germs. While some choose to get flu shots, I prefer to take matters into my own hands with essential oils in general and a protective and immunity blend specifically. Many of you recognize these type of blends by their reference to thieves or robbers, and most assuredly, every reputable essential oil company will have their own version of this blend.
That said, you can also make this blend yourself, using a handful of popular and readily available essential oils.
There is a lot of speculation as to how this blend got its name, but the brief version of the legend says robbers doused themselves with a protective blend of herbs and spices before stealing from those who had succumbed to the plague. More about that in a moment.
This all leads to modern day essential oil blends that are commonly used to ward off illness. I have been using such a blend for almost ten years and have never once had the flu, have only had an occasional cold, and have enjoyed freedom from norovirus and other illnesses experienced by travelers.
Perhaps it has been luck but to my way of thinking, using an EO protective blend adds a layer of insurance against contracting everyday sicknesses that can make you miserable. That is where the immunity part comes into play.
How to Make Your Own Thieves-Like Protective Essential Oil Blend
This is a DIY version of the legendary thieves/robbers blend that is very popular among essential oil enthusiasts.
DIY Essential Oil Protective Blend
25 drops Clove Bud Oil
20 drops Lemon Oil
15 drops Cinnamon Bark Oil
10 drops Eucalyptus Oil
10 drops Rosemary Oil
Add the oils to an empty glass bottle and use it as needed topically, aromatically, or as an ingredient in household cleaning products (see my suggestions below). This 80-drop recipe makes approximately 5ML and can be easily doubled or tripled. Print Recipe.
Can You Save Money Making Your Own Blend?
I wanted to answer this for myself so I did a cost analysis and learned you can experience modest savings by making this blend yourself with one caveat. In order to save money, you need to either already have the oils on hand or plan to use the leftover oils for another purpose. Of course, that other purpose can be to make additional batches of this blend!
For this analysis, I used oils from Spark Naturals. If you use another brand, you can make a similar analysis. What I did is calculate the cost per drop of the individual essential oils using 85 drops per 5ML bottle as a baseline. I then compared that cost to purchasing a 5ML bottle of Spark Naturals Shield Protective Blend.
Update: Plant Therapy is now my preferred brand of essential oils. I have found them to be of the highest quality and yet more favorably priced than Spark Naturals. Plant Therapy sells a protective blend similar to this DIY called Germ Fighter. The cost is less than $15 for a full ounce or 30ML.
The results? The bottle of Shield is $10.08. This is the regular price, not on sale. The cost of the DIY is $6.82, about 32% less. Note, however, the cost of all of the oils was $36.82 and with those oils, you could make multiple bottles of the DIY and/or use the oils for other purposes.
Suggestions for other brand-name blends you may want to explore can be found here on the Strategic Living website.
How to Use Your DIY Protective Blend
Now for the good part. Once you have your protective essential oil blend, how do you use it? These are ways that I personally use my protective blend to keep the cooties and the creeping crud at bay.
In a Diffuser: This time of year, I diffuse six to eight drops in the diffusers I have scattered all over the house. This includes the bathroom, bedside table, kitchen, and my office (aka girl cave). Here is a link to my favorite diffuser.
Hand Sanitizer: I keep a small spray bottle with witch hazel and my protective thieves-like blend in my handbag (or backpack) and use it as a mobile hand sanitizer. This is especially useful when leaving public restrooms that do not have paper towels that can be used to open the door to exit. I hate those blower thingies! A little goes a long way. In my 1-ounce spray bottle, I use 20 drops of essential oil. Sometimes I also add a couple of drops of oregano oil for additional antibacterial protection.
Protective Salve: Instead of adding rosemary, lavender, and peppermint to my healing salve, I add the requisite number of drops of my protective blend. So, for example, I will add 30 drops of the protective blend to a 1-ounce jar of salve. If I have been around sniffly, stuffed-up, and sickly people, I will rub this on the bottom of my feet morning and night to chase away the cooties. Here is how to make your own healing salve.
Foaming Soap: To make my own, non-toxic foaming soap dispenser, I add 12 drops of the protective blend to 2 ounces of castile soap and 10 ounces of water. This gives me the benefit of sanitized hands each and every time I wash them (which is often).
Cleaning Supplies: Finally, I like to add this blend to my homemade cleaning supplies to give them a germ-fighting boost. For a general, all-purpose cleaner, I use a spray bottle with 16 ounces of water, 2 TBL of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap, and 12-15 drops of Shield or the DIY Protective Blend. You can also add a few drops of the blend to a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water solution. This makes for a fine bathroom cleaner all by its own self but be mindful that vinegar should never be used on natural stone surfaces such as granite.
How Did “Thieves” or “Robbers” Blend Get Its Name?
The history of Thieves-like essential oils blends is mostly a matter of legend but it is interesting none-the-less.
It is said that back in late medieval times when Bubonic Plague was rampant, a pack of four thieves went from house to house to rob those who had died from the illness. Today we would call them looters. Anyway, the thieves were eventually caught and tried for their acts of robbery. In an effort to gain leniency for their crimes, they offered to share how they were able to escape getting the plague themselves, even though they were exposed over and over again while performing their nefarious acts.
In an alternate version of the legend, the thieves were actually grave robbers and thus the term “robbers blend”.
This is what a medieval doctor might have looked like during the plague.
History, and not legend, tells us that during the time of the plague striking Europe, physicians and caregivers were seen wearing long black robes, wide-brimmed hats, and masks that appeared to have a beak. The masks were said to have contained a combination of herbs, spices, and oils that the physicians would breathe in order to keep themselves safe from those afflicted with the illness. Their long black robes were doused with the same combination of herbs, spices, and oils providing an additional safety net against the plague.
How did the thieves stay healthy and what were the herbs, spices, and essential oils used in the masks of the physicians?
Now we get back to legend as there are as many theories relative to which aromatics were used during the era. No one knows for sure but most accounts say that vinegar was used as a base for steeping various herbs and spices such as rosemary, rue, camphor, garlic, cloves, and cinnamon in various combination.
It is reported that the following vinegar recipe hung in the Museum of Paris in 1937, and is said to have been an original copy of the recipe posted on the walls of Marseilles during an episode of the plague :
Take three pints of strong white wine vinegar, add a handful of each of wormwood, meadowsweet, wild marjoram and sage, fifty cloves, two ounces of campanula roots, two ounces of angelic, rosemary and horehound and three large measures of champhor. Place the mixture in a container for fifteen days, strain and express then bottle. Use by rubbing it on the hands, ears and temples from time to time when approaching a plague victim. [Source]
One theory that describes the efficacy of this concoction was that it contained natural flea repellents, the flea being the carrier for the plague bacillus, Yersinia pestis. In addition, wormwood has properties similar to cedar as an insect repellent, as do aromatics such as sage, cloves, camphor, rosemary, and campanula. It is surmised that the inclusion of meadowsweet was to mask the odors of decomposing bodies.
I don’t know about you, but to my way of thinking, a blend of essential oils sounds like a much more elegant presentation of “thieves” blend then herbs and spices steeped in vinegar!
A Word About My Favorite Essential Oils
Since the beginning of 2019, I have struggled with the fact that I have primarily been using essential oils from a single company. On many levels, it was time for a change.
Alas, this was easier said than done since I needed to assess the performance of various EOs in my tried and true salve and roller ball formulas. In addition, I wanted to find a budget-friendly company that offered 100% free shipping all of the time.
My first successful tests have been with essential oils from Plant Therapy. This was a logical choice since Plant Therapy has always been my preferred source for carrier oils such as Fractionated Coconut oil and Jojoba oil. They carry a huge variety of EOs and are available to purchase directly both on the Plant Therapy website and on Amazon. As a bonus, their web site posts test results individually by oil along with the corresponding batch number. This assures me that the oils are not fake.
While there are many excellent EO companies, I am happy with my choice and hope you will check them out. Wherever you decide to purchase your oils, let your nose guide you. If your essential oil smells like paint thinner, return it. Good oils smell nice.
Suggested reading: The Snarky and Surprising Truth About Essential Oil Companies
Summing It All Up
Tales of thieves and robbers and the bubonic plague sounds gruesome to me, but so goes the legend. Is it true? As with all legends, there is no way to know for sure.
What I do know for sure is that I have not been sick for more than a day or two since I started using this blend myself. For that reason, I hope you will consider whipping up a batch of your own protective essential oil blend, or alternatively, purchase Plant Therapy Germ Fighter or another like it. This stuff can really give you the edge in terms of staying healthy not only during cold and flu season but all year long.
Yours for a Joyful Life,
Back in the day, I would end each article with a list of products related to the post. In all cases, these were products I purchased myself, used, and felt comfortable recommending. Here are today’s suggestions, aptly named, “The Strategic Haul”.
Foaming Soap Dispenser: I have owned these foaming soap dispensers for years and have never had a fail. I simply can not fathom why someone would not want to make a one-time purchase of a “foamer”, as they are called so that they can be refilled over and over again.
Plant Therapy Germ Fighter: Plant Therapy essential oils are well formulated and of the highest quality. Germ Fighter is their thieves-like blend and for less than $15 for a full 30 ml (one ounce), is a bargain. This, plus perhaps some Oregano Oil, is the one blend I would cover during a disruptive event or survival situation.
Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap: Although Dr. Bronner’s soaps come in a mind-boggling array of scents, I usually purchase the unscented so that I can add EOs myself, depending on what I am trying to accomplish. That said, a peek in my cupboard will include Tea Tree, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Rose Hemp Castile soaps. You might say that I am a Dr. Bronner’s addict. Not convinced? Here is a cheat sheet describing many of the various ways you can use this versatile soap: http://www.lisabronner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Dilutions-Cheat-Sheet.pdf.
Diffusers: I own a lot of diffusers. Not as many diffusers as flashlights but close. Of those diffusers, five are from Aromasoft. These diffusers are super quiet and super reliable. Not only that, you can set the Aromasoft up to run intermittently with 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, or have it run steadily. It is nice to have a choice. Not only that, the Aromasoft diffuser has a lifetime warranty which I once took advantage of with a quick email. A new diffuser arrived at my doorstep less than a week later. If you are in the market for a diffuser, this is the one to get.
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Bruce Maccabee says
For years I have used a non-chemical “analgesic,” namely hot water! Yes, sticking
your itch under a stream of hot water, hot enough to be uncomfortable or painful, makes the
itch even itchyer for a few seconds and then the itch goes away … for a long time.
I have used this on mosquito and fly bites and blister-creating irritants such
as poison ivy.
Gaye Levy says
Interesting. I have never heard of that but worth considering, especially in a survival situation where there are no obtainable remedies.
Thank you so much, Gaye, for this recipe, which I have written down in my notebook of essential oil and natural recipes (including your healing salve recipe!) and will make asap. I really miss you on Backdoor Survival, it just isn’t the same without you! I have been a long-time user of Spark Naturals, even belong to their oil of the month club, so I already have all of these oils. They have a fantastic product and fantastic customer service. I can call them and Ember will pick up and answer my questions and make suggestions quickly and take care of my orders quickly.
As a hand sanitizer, can you use the protective blend with rubbing alcohol instead of witch hazel? I read where witch hazel has a tiny bit if carcinogen in it so if I can use regular alcohol, that would be great.
Gaye Levy says
You can, although keep in mind that rubbing alcohol can be very irritating to the skin. Plus, depending on what you get, the rubbing alcohol may contain up to 30% water. As an alternative, consider making a hand sanitizer with aloe gel or make a salve version (which I like to do) by adding the blend to a base salve or even to Miracle Healing Salve.
I read where heating olive oil brings out certain chemicals…can I replace the olive oil with shea butter?
Or avacado oil?