Everyday Essential Oils – Thieves

Everyday Essential Oils – Thieves

by Carrie Overfield


Of all of the essential oils in the Everyday Oils collection, Thieves is definitely one of my favorites. Formulated by Young Living, this blend of oils is made from five different plants shown to be effective against a variety of disease-causing germs: clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary. Its name originated from stories about a band of thieves who applied a blend of plant extracts to protect them from the plague, while they robbed the homes of those who had succumbed to the illness. Clearly, their motives were far from pure, but their story has led to additional research into the anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-septic properties of some of the plant oils that they are purported to have used. Although their exact recipe has been lost, Thieves essential oil blend was designed to contain some of the more likely ingredients, with adaptations based on recent scientific discoveries.


Thieves has traditionally been used to help the body heal from all sorts of infections: respiratory, gastrointestinal, dental, etc. In our family, we apply it topically (after dilution) on our neck and chest as a preventative, especially when we are around others that are coughing and sneezing. During cold and flu season, we diffuse it in our home to help reduce the chance of airborne transmission of illness. And I use it in my hand soap and household cleaning products as a natural disinfectant. Basically, any time any one is sick, or we are around anyone who is sick, we pull out the Thieves!

Using Thieves during illnesses is supported by the scientific literature. One study found that diffusing Thieves significantly reduced the number of disease-causing bacteria in the air (1). A similar blend containing clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary and wild orange reduced the infectiousness of the flu in vitro (2), and an animal study demonstrated that inhalation and nasal application of one component of cinnamon oil dramatically improved the survival rate of those with influenza A (3).

By blending these five oils, Young Living has created a powerful tool. In traditional medicine, cinnamon is used to treat respiratory, gastrointestinal, and gynecological complaints, and modern scientific studies seem to support these uses (3, 4). Clove oil not only kills germs (5), it provides pain relief (6), traditionally for tooth and gum pain, and prevents tooth decay (7). Eucalyptus has shown strong antibacterial and antifungal effects (8), it helps loosen mucus (9), improves lung function (9) and reduces asthma and emphysema symptoms (9, 10). Additionally, rosemary has been shown to be highly effective against bacteria and yeast known to cause respiratory, intestinal, gynecological, and skin infections (11, 12).  The addition of lemon oil provides additional protection against bacteria and yeast that can cause food poisoning (13), yeast infections (14), and other bacteria (15). Individually, these oils are effective; by combining them it would seem that bad bugs don’t stand a chance against Thieves!


Thieves can be applied topically, inhaled or diffused, or taken internally. Because some of the oils contained in it can cause skin irritation if used full strength, it is important to dilute it according to the package instructions: 1 drop of Thieves to 4 drops of a carrier oil (such as V-6, almond, apricot kernel, coconut, etc.). For convenience, you can mix ahead of time in a small spray bottle or roller, which can be purchased at your local health foods store, or ordered from a supplier such as www.abundanthealth4you.com.

Thieves is particularly helpful when inhaled. To accomplish this, you can purchase a diffuser especially designed for essential oils, or you can can place a cotton ball containing a few drops of the oil over the outlet of a cool mist humidifier. (The Premium Starter Kit includes a home diffuser.) For on-the-go inhalation, consider using an inhaler (also available at www.abundanthealth4you.com), or simply put a few drops on a tissue in a ziplock bag.

Because of it’s numbing action, Thieves can be particularly helpful for tooth and gum pain, as well as for a sore throat. It can be applied directly (after dilution) or sipped with a warm drink. It has a strong cinnamon flavor, and a powerful numbing effect. It can also be put into capsules and swallowed, if you prefer to avoid the taste and numbing sensation.

We use Thieves at the first sign of any type of illness. First we apply it topically: to the neck and chest area for respiratory symptoms (like cough, colds, and sinus symptoms), and to the abdomen for any stomach issues. You can also apply it to the bottoms of the feet, if preferred. For sore throat, the adults in our family put a drop on the tongue and let it roll back to the throat. For canker sores and mouth ulcers, we apply a drop directly on the affected area; the kids even carry a small bottle with q-tips to use before meals whenever they have a sore or toothache. Since we discovered Young Living essential oils and have been using Thieves in this way, we have not had to use antibiotics; not even once!

The Premium Starter Kit, which contains the entire Everyday Oils Collection, a home diffuser, a Young Living membership (which gives you discounts on every order), samples and more, is a great value and an easy way to start using essential oils. You may also want to consider purchasing a bottle of V-6 to dilute your oils.

The dilution and other instructions are included on the package label for your convenience; please follow all dilution and safety instructions carefully. For more information about essential oil safety, please refer to Young Living’s Essential Oil Safety Guide.

Still have questions? Please feel free to contact me, and I’ll be happy to assist you!



(1) Chao, S.C., Young, D.G., Oberg, C.J. (1998). Effect of a Diffused Essential Oil Blend on Bacterial Bioaerosols. Journal of Essential Oil Research 10(5), 517-23. doi: 10.1080/10412905.1998.9700958.

(2) Wu, S., Patel, K.Bl, Booth, L.J, Metcalf, J.P., Lin, H.K., Wu, W. (2010). Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: an in vitro study in MDCK cells. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 10(69). doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-10-69.

(3) Hayashi, K., Imanishi, N., Kashiwayama, Y. Kawano, A, Teresawa, K, Shimada, Y, Ochiai, H. (2007) Inhibitory effect of cinnamaldehyde, derived from Cinnamomi cortex, on the growth of influenza A/PR/8 virus in vitro and in vivo. Antiviral Research, 74(1), 1-8.

(4)  Ranasinghe, P., Pigera, S., Premakumara, G.A., Galappaththy, P., Constantine, G.R., Katulanda, P. Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 13(275). doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-275.

(5) Nunez, L., Qquino, M.D. (2012). Microbicide activity of clove essential oil (Eugenia caryophyllata). Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, 43(4), 1255-60. doi: 10.1590/S1517-83822012000400003.

(6) Alqareer, A., Alyahya, A., Andersson, L. The effect of clove and benzocaine versus placebo as topical anesthetics. Journal of Dentistry, 34(10), 747-50.

(7) Marya, C.M., Satija, G., Nagpal, R., Kapoor,R., Ahmad, A. (2012) In vitro inhibitory effect of clove essential oil and its two active principles on tooth decalcification by apple juice. International Journal of Dentistry.

(8) Elaissi, A., Rouis, Z., Ben Salem, N.A., Mabrouk, S., Ben Salem, Y., Salah, K.B.H., Aouni, M., Farhat, F., Chemli, R., Harzallah-Skhiri, Khouja, M.L. (2012). Chemical composition of 8 eucalyptus species’ essential oils and the evaluation of their antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities.  BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12(81). http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/12/81.

(9) Worth, H., Dethlefsen, U. (2012). Patients with asthma benefit from concomitant therapy with cineole: a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Journal of Asthma, 49(8), 849-53. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2012.717657.

(10) Juergens, U.R. (2014). Anti-inflammatory Properties of the Monoterpene 1.8-cineole: Current Evidence for Co-medication in Inflammatory Airway Diseases.  Drug Research.

(11) Jiang, Y., Wu, N., Fu, Y.J., Want, W. Juo, M., Zhao, C.J., Zu, Y.Gl, Liu, X.L. (2011). Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Rosemary. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, 32(1), 63-8. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2011.03.011.

(12) Sienkiewicz, M., Lysakawska, M., Pastuszka, M., Bienias, W., Kowalczyk, E. (2013). The potential of use basil and rosemary essential oils as effective antibacterial agents. Molecules, 18(8) 9334-51. doi: 10.3390/molecules18089334.

(13) Friedman, M., Henika, P.R., Levin, C.E., Mandrell, R.E. (2004). Antibacterial activities of plant essential oils and their components against Escherichia coli O1757:H7 and Salmonella enterica in apple juice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51(19), 6042-8.

(14) Bialon, M., Krzysko-Lupicka, T., Koszalkowska, M., Wieczorek, P.P. (2014). The influence of chemical composition of commercial lemon essential oils on the growth of Candida strains. Mycopathologia, 177(1-2), 29-39. doi: 10.1007/s11046-013-9723-3.

(15) Liu, Y., Ahang, X., Wang, Y., Chen, F., Yu, Z., Wang, L., Chen, S., Juo, M. (2013). Effect of citrus lemon oil on growth and adherence of Streptococcus mutans. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, 29(7), 1161-7. doi: 10.1007/s11274-013-1275-7.


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