Four Thieves Vinegar

Food is Medicine

Salvia officinalis Common/European sage

Add all ingredients to a clean glass jar, ensuring all herbs are covered by the vinegar.

Allow to stand for one month in a cool, dark place.

Strain through muslin and bottle.

This botanical vinegar blend can be taken as a tonic and is good for all culinary uses as any flavoured vinegar.

Recipe supplied by Margot, head tea taster at the physic garden.

Sage Advice

European sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, black pepper & garlic are foodstuff medicinal plants.

Taken regularly European sage may help support our cognitive function as we age. At a medicinal level sage has has gold standard clinical evidence to verify its use to improve memory and attention in the young, the old and those with Alzheimer’s.

Enjoy using these herbacious flavours in teas, soups, stews, pasta, sauces, roasts and bakes, knowing that compounds in these plants are shown to increase your brain’s memory & attention neurotransmitter, to lower oxidation, inflammation and cholesterol, and to be antimicrobial and oestrogenic. All these actions are thought to help maintain our cognitive function and support brain cell health.

The legend tells of four thieves who robbed the homes and corpses of those who had died from plague – when it struck Toulouse in France in the 17th century, but who allegedly survived the disease, thanks to a herbal vinegar blend.

The Physic Shop

Items from The Physic Shop that contain European sage are Memory Tea, Memory TinctureRespiratory TeaProtect Atomiser and Alert Pulse-Point.

Read more about how to grow sage and other medicinal plants for the mind in Grow Your Own Physic Garden.


Before taking any plant at a medicinal level, always consult a NIMH (National Institute of Medical Herbalists) medical herbalist and inform your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, have any medical condition, allergy or are taking any medication.

Always be sure of the identity of your plant, and grow, harvest, prepare and store your plant material following the exact guidelines – this ensures that the bioactive phytochemicals are present and stable.

Source plant medicine products from an established reputable source. Read any caution and do not exceed the recommended dose & duration – but note that there is an effective medicinal dose & duration to reach clinical efficacy.

Effective plant medicine is about individual prescription to your whole condition in order to get to the root of the problem, and it can take time to treat long-term conditions. When using plant medicine for the first time we recommend consulting a medical herbalist from the NIMH to find out what benefits you most.

Scientific Research

Lopresti AL. Salvia (Sage): A Review of its Potential Cognitive-Enhancing and Protective Effects. Drugs R D. 2017 Mar;17(1):53-64. doi: 10.1007/s40268-016-0157-5. PMID: 27888449; PMCID: PMC5318325.

Wightman EL, Jackson PA, Spittlehouse B, Heffernan T, Guillemet D, Kennedy DO. The Acute and Chronic Cognitive Effects of a Sage Extract: A Randomized, Placebo Controlled Study in Healthy Humans. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 14;13(1):218. doi: 10.3390/nu13010218. PMID: 33466627; PMCID: PMC7828691.

Tildesley NT, Kennedy DO, Perry EK, Ballard CG, Savelev S, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. Salvia lavandulaefolia (Spanish sage) enhances memory in healthy young volunteers. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):669-74. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(03)00122-9. PMID: 12895685.

Perry NSL, Menzies R, Hodgson F, Wedgewood P, Howes MR, Brooker HJ, Wesnes KA, Perry EK. A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial of a combined extract of sage, rosemary and melissa, traditional herbal medicines, on the enhancement of memory in normal healthy subjects, including influence of age. Phytomedicine. 2018 Jan 15;39:42-48. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.08.015. Epub 2017 Aug 18. PMID: 29433682.

Tildesley NT, Kennedy DO, Perry EK, Ballard CG, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. Positive modulation of mood and cognitive performance following administration of acute doses of Salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil to healthy young volunteers. Physiol Behav. 2005 Jan 17;83(5):699-709. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.09.010. PMID: 15639154.

Perry NS, Houghton PJ, Sampson J, Theobald AE, Hart S, Lis-Balchin M, Hoult JR, Evans P, Jenner P, Milligan S, Perry EK. In-vitro activity of S. lavandulaefolia (Spanish sage) relevant to treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2001 Oct;53(10):1347-56. doi: 10.1211/0022357011777846. PMID: 11697542.

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