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Fragrant Lotion Fights Cramps

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Q. I have found that drinking Earl Grey tea for a few days seems to trigger nighttime leg cramps. I used to use special soap my sister brought back from France. Her friend in Paris swore that putting it under the sheets would eliminate them and I find it helps.

When the fragrance seemed to disappear, I started using a very fragrant body lotion. It relieved my leg cramps the same as soap. I think, for me, it's a form of aroma therapy.

A. Your report is the first we have heard of soap under the sheets being a leg cramp remedy in another country. We have heard from many readers in the U.S. who find this approach helpful.

Earl Grey tea can cause muscle cramps in susceptible people (The Lancet, April 27, 2002). This is because the flavor (oil of bergamot) can interfere with potassium moving in and out of muscle cells.

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3 Comments

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I have heard that breathing - as in relaxation techniques - helps to ease muscle cramps, so perhaps the aromatherapy triggers a more natural relaxed breathing. I have also heard that you should drink water - regularly, to prevent cramps of course, but also to drink water at the onset of a cramp. In that situation, I don't know if it is that the act of drinking encourages deeper or more regular breathing, or if the water itself performs some kind of magic.

Hello - I had not tuned in to your radio program before this Saturday when I did tune in and it was fascinating - one thing I'd like some clarity about is the using a bar of soap to alleviate muscle pain in the body -how can that be, I wondered. But it's worth a try so my question is what kind of soap to buy? My 96 year old mother lives with my husband and I and she frequently complains of lower back pain so I told her about your program and the soap idea and she's willing to give it a try but what kind of soap to buy? That's all!

Keep up the so so interesting show and now I'm going to tune in regularly to my Wis. Public Radio station on Saturday mornings.

Susan

I use unscented Dove bath-soap bars (smooth, worn-down ones), and that works very well. So, apparently, it's not just about the "aroma."

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