Have you ever heard of the healing tonic known as Thieves Vinegar? This DIY healing wonder has an interesting history, named after four thieves in Marseilles, France who used it to avoid sickness during a pestilence cursing multiple cities in Europe in 1910, but you can make your own today with some simple ingredients.

Vinegar itself already has multiple healing properties, and apple cider vinegar (ACV) is used for everything from preventing coughs and colds to ridding the skin of eczema and acne. This is due, in large part, to the enzymes present in ACV that help the body to eliminate toxins and absorb nutrients from other foods you eat. As you may have heard, most Americans’ diets are devoid of the proper enzymes they need for optimum heath today.

When you add some antimicrobial herbs to an already-healthy vinegar (containing the power of fermentation), you end up with a health tonic that is referenced in the Bible and the writings of Ancient Greece.

The “Thieves” name comes with many stories. Some argue that condemned criminals were sent out to bury the dead during the plague, and only those who drank vinegar infused with garlic lived to tell about it.

Others say that thieves were robbing the homes and corpses of those that had died, but one particular group of thieves survived. When they shared the secret of the herbal vinegar blend they used to protect themselves from the plague, they were granted leniency in court for the crimes they had committed. The name “Forthave’s Vinegar” was used to describe the vinegar tonic of Richard Forthave.

At first I thought this recipe was an urban legend until I heard about different versions of it at a local natural wellness fair recently. It does have some colorful history, after all, but it turns out the myth behind the mystery is quite accurate. This is quite the healing brew – and the best part is you can use whatever ‘healing’ herbs you want to add to the mix.