Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Four Thieves

Legend has it that in the 1600´s Marseilles was suffering a plague.  Taking advantage of the fear and desperation, a group of four thieves began robbing the houses and corpses of those who´d fled the city or died.  Upon their arrest, the Magistrate offered them a deal - burn at the stake, or offer their secret for surviving amongst the plague victims and simply hang.  They confessed to soaking kerchieves with a vinegar and herb mixture that, when worn over the face, prevented them from being infected.

Alfred Rethel: Death as the Avenger

Innumerable versions of the herbs exist.  From Wikipedia -
Four Thieves Vinegar (also called Marseilles Vinegar, Marseilles Remedy, Prophylactic Vinegar, Vinegar of the Four Thieves, camphorated acetic acid, Vinaigre des Quatre Voleurs, and Acetum Quator Furum[1][2]) is a concoction of vinegar (either from red wine, white wine, cider, or distilled white) infused with herbs, spices or garlic that was believed to protect users from the plague. The recipe for this vinegar has almost as many variations as its legend.

This soap is made from palm, olive, coconut, sweet almond and castor oils, green clay and spirulina. (I wanted to use up the last of the palm oil I had.  I won´t be using it any more for sustainability reasons.)  The refreshing EOs:
Lavendar - Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Diuretic, Insecticide, Sedative
Cedarwood - Antifungal, Antiseptic, Astringent, Expectorant, Sedative
Eucalyptus - Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Antiviral, Stimulant
Sage - anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant (As it turns out, sage EO is a bit tricky, so do some research before using.)
Peppermint - Analgesic, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Decongestant, Digestive Aid

I think this could have label appeal for pilgrims on the Camino.  And possibilities for related tasty salad dressings, cleaning vinegar solutions, or room sprays, too, assuming one eases up on the garlic, with bonus plague protection!

Hans Holbein