What is pickpocket oil and what are its benefits?

The thief oil, also called "thieves oil", is a natural product that arises from the combination of various essential oils, such as cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, lemon and rosemary. Since centuries, The mixture is used for medicinal purposes, especially for its antiseptic properties.

According to anecdotal data, its components are effective in fighting viruses, bacteria and fungi. In addition, it is used to improve mood and combat some types of pain. Are you interested in knowing more about its properties? Next we will tell you what it is for and how to prepare it.

History of pickpocket oil

It is said that the thief's oil It emerged during the 15th century in France, just when the bubonic plague was at its peak in Europe. At that time (year 1413), four robbers were caught accused of robbing cemeteries or dying people.

However, in the midst of a highly contagious and lethal plague, it was surprising to the authorities that these people were not infected. For this reason, during the trial they were offered a reduction in their sentence if they revealed the "secret" that made them resist the plague.

The defendants told the judge that they were perfumers and that they had made a combination of aromatic herbs rubbed on various parts of the body in order to avoid disease. Since then, the preparation has become popular and its uses have spread to many parts of the world.

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The benefits of pickpocket oil

Popular literature attributes a wide variety of benefits to pickpocket oil. However, most of these effects have not been proven by science. However, there are studies on the individual properties of the oils that are used to make this preparation.

An investigation disclosed in Journal of Essential Oil Research determined that diffused pickpocket oil can reduce the presence of bacteria transmitted through aerosols, as the Micrococcus luteus, the Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the Staphylococcus aureus.

The researchers suggest that this product can be a complement for the treatment of air in closed spaces and to avoid the transmission of bacterial agents. Still, more evidence is needed.

Rosemary essential oil is one of the components of pickpocket oil.

Other possible benefits

Given its wide use throughout history, pickpocket oil is considered an adjunct against various health problems. Although the evidence is limited, it is believed that its effects come from the components of each oil used.

Thus, other possible benefits are the following:

  • Antimicrobial activity against persistent cultures of Borrelia burgdorferi: an investigation revealed in Frontiers in Medicine found that low concentrations of cinnamon and clove essential oil help inhibit the activity of the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes Lyme disease.
  • Infection prevention: Eucalyptus oil (another ingredient in pickpocket oil) has exhibited antimicrobial properties against agents that cause common infections in humans. According to a study in Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, this preparation acts as a natural antibiotic against the species Escherichia coli (E. coli) Y Staphylococcus aureus (causing skin infections).
  • Adjuvant against respiratory diseases: The story goes that pickpocket oil helps to alleviate and prevent diseases of the respiratory system. Regarding this, a study in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies exposes that cinnamon oil vapors help inhibit the growth of pathogens such as Haemophilus influenzae Y Streptococcus pneumoniae.
  • Supplement for wound healing: pickpocket oil contains a substance called cinnamaldehyde (found in cinnamon oil) which appears to promote wound healing. Even, according to the magazine Molecules, it also reduces the presence of bacteria that can cause infection on the lesions.
  • Possible analgesic effect: The oils used in the preparation of pickpocket oil are known for their mild analgesic effect. An animal study published in 2019 revealed that inhaling eucalyptus oil contributes to pain relief.

What are the risks?

Essential oils in their pure state can cause unwanted reactions. Therefore, before using them, it is necessary to dilute the product and do a small sensitivity test. For the latter, carry out the following process:

  1. Clean the skin and dry it.
  2. Combine a few drops of pickpocket oil with a carrier oil and apply it to your forearm.
  3. Cover with a bandage and leave for 24 hours.
  4. If there is irritation, rinse and discontinue use. Otherwise, you can use it without problem.

Now, you should keep in mind that preparation may cause photosensitivity. That is, it makes the skin sensitive to the sun or any form of ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, there is a risk of burns or stains. To avoid this, be sure to protect yourself from the sun after using the product.

Other unwanted reactions are as follows:

  • Redness
  • Itch.
  • Swelling.

If you suffer from these symptoms, avoid its use and consult your doctor. Also try not to apply it to children, pregnant or lactating women. Given the lack of studies, it is unknown if it is safe in these cases.

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How to prepare pickpocket oil at home?

The pickpocket oil is available in pharmacies, herbal stores or distributors of natural products. However, it can also be prepared at home in simple steps. Take note!


  • 40 drops of clove essential oil.
  • 35 drops of essential lemon.
  • 20 drops of cinnamon essential oil.
  • 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.
  • 10 drops of rosemary essential oil.


  1. Incorporate all the oils into a dark glass bottle and mix them well.
  2. Cover the product well and store it in a cool and dry place.
  3. Before using it, dilute in water or a carrier oil.
  4. If you prefer, you can add or substitute essential oils. For example, you can change the lemon one for the orange one. You can also use thyme oil, among other herbal options.

20 drops of the essential oil of cinnamon are necessary to constitute the homemade formula.

How to use

There are several ways to use pickpocket oil as therapy. First, it can be added to a diffuser with water so that its scent is dispersed throughout the room. It is believed that, in this way, helps calm stress, anxiety and mood problems.

On the other hand, it is possible to add it to boiling water to inhale the vapors. It can also be combined with coconut or jojoba oil for a massage. In the latter case, the picker oil content must not exceed 3% of the total volume of the preparation. Therefore, add only 3-5 drops per ounce.

Finally, It can be applied as a spray to clean the air in rooms. In this case, combine about 15 drops of pickpocket oil in one ounce of water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the product in the desired spaces.

What should you remember about pickpocket oil?

Currently, the evidence on the effectiveness of pickpocket oil is limited. The studies that support its properties are individual, that is, of each oil that makes it up. Many of these tests were done on animals, so there is no certainty if it also works in humans.

In any case, anecdotal data suggest that it helps prevent and treat various types of infections, especially of bacterial origin. It also appears to improve mood and help relieve pain. Although it should not be used as a first-line treatment, it can be considered as an adjunct.

It is necessary to do a small sensitivity test before applying it on the skin. In specific cases, such as pregnancy and lactation, it is better to avoid its use. Consult your doctor or herbalist if you have other questions about this product.