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Thieves essential oil is supposed to help keep you from getting sick by killing germs.

Packed with powerful, germ-killing essential oils, the Thieves line helps eliminate airborne bacteria and boost the immune system. The Thieves Kit offers protection during cold and flu season of winter months.

However, I am wondering what scientific evidence is available that supports this. I am looking for clinical studies, etc. that support the claims made by companies that promote this essential oil. Do any exist?

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I note "cold and flu" are not airborne bacteria. Also, the meaningfulness of "boost the immune system" has been debated here before. –  Oddthinking May 13 '12 at 4:18
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Note the disclaimer at the bottom of the page: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. –  Henry May 13 '12 at 10:21
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I notice nobody pointed this out, sorry for the late comment: it doesn't claim to protect AGAINST cold and flu, just that it "offers protection" during winter, when colds and flus are more common. Presumably it only protects against bacteria, but it happens to do so just as well in winter as summer. –  Yamikuronue Sep 24 '12 at 15:41
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2 Answers

Plants have evolved various defence mechanisms including antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal components. Some of these are collected in so-called "essential oils" and these oils can certainly have an impact. Perhaps the best known is tea tree oil. Some essential oils are toxic in high concentrations and some others seem merely to smell nice.

As for Thieves essential oil, which seems to be a mixture of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus and Rosemary, the commercial website points a single published study of this particular mixture, in 1998 in the Journal of Essential Oil Research which does show some impact but does not seem to imply it is a cure-all. There is rather more in other publications on the individual components.

As I said in a comment, the Thieves website has a disclaimer

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

which I think suggests that you should not rely too heavily on it preventing all forms of disease.

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I think it would be good to quote a little from the study: it only looked at (3 types of) bacteria, not viruses. It only looked at aerosol forms (of the oil and the bacteria). The abstract doesn't mention dosages that may or may not have had real world application. –  Oddthinking May 15 '12 at 14:29
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Also, the study is credited to, among others, Dr. Gary Young, the owner of Young Living - a company which sells Thieves Oil. –  TehShrike Oct 28 '13 at 18:52
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We should not be too quick to discount the value of the creations of nature simply because of their unique non standardized makeup that doesn't conform to scientific standardization .

The University of Manchester researchers have dome some research in this area as per this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4116053.stm.

There is pretty strong evidence that essential oils are effective and the only reason they aren't being used to combat disease is because they are only available naturally occurring in plants. These plant oils cannot be replicated in a lab and will not therefore be patented as commercial medicine .

This in no way limits the ability of "true pure essential oils" to heal and repair the organs of the the human body .

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Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide better references to support your claims. "Creations of nature" aren't discounted for being non-standard; scientists tend to standardise them so they can be tested for safety. The cite you give is an unscientific PR; if it was science, the results would be published, not hidden. If you have pretty strong evidence that thieves' oil is effective, please cite it. Slurs that scientists ignore unpatentable cures need references. –  Oddthinking Dec 28 '13 at 10:46
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These plant oils cannot be replicated in a lab and will not therefore be patented as commercial medicine .. You do realize that many commercial medicines are derived from plants, right? Compounds derived from plants are often starting points for research in the pharmaceutical industry. That plant oils cannot be replicated in the lab is simply false. –  nico Dec 28 '13 at 15:32
    
That's a weak source for such a bold claim. –  matt_black Dec 29 '13 at 0:27
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