Six years ago we first heard about putting soap under the bottom sheet to prevent leg cramps. We thought it was ridiculous, but this remedy seemed to fit our motto: “might help, won’t hurt and is affordable.” We wrote about it in our syndicated newspaper column and the rest is history. Since then we have head from hundreds of people that soap is amazingly effective for relieving leg cramps and even restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Of course not everyone benefits, but that is true of medications too. As a matter of fact, there is no FDA-approved medicine for relieving leg cramps. Quinine used to be available over the counter for leg cramps but it has been banned for such use because of the potential to cause serious side effects.
Here is just the most recent post to this Web site about the benefits of soap:
+++++++++++++++++++++++++
I suffered horribly with leg cramps for years, and I was very young so I felt very depressed about my future with this issue. I was up almost every night, crying and rubbing the back of my legs (which didn’t help much because I couldn’t really dig in to the pain), and then one day my mom told me about the soap. She said she had heard about it from a lady at church who swore it worked and my mom was so desperate to relieve her leg pain she decided to give it a try – and it worked!
I thought my mom was crazy but decided to try it myself and IT CHANGED MY LIFE!!! I rarely have leg pain anymore and I make sure I have soap with me wherever I sleep (traveling, friend’s house, etc.). I told a friend at work about it and she too has had success with it. What do you have to lose??? Try it – it worked for me!!
TLC
Date: April 14, 2010

Join Over 55,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. F J Pisani
    Reply

    I have no words to express my gratitude to you about the soap treatment. To me it’s not a treatment, it’s a miracle. I have been suffering with excruciating pain in both my legs especially in the early hours of the morning and as soon as I get out of bed. What I do is I rub gently both my legs with a highly scented soap which has been on the market for years on end and also I put a couple of soaps between the sheets for that matter. So I want to add my name with who found relief in the treatment. Pain is a thing of the past.
    The physicians may not agree but my answer to them is I suffered terrific pain but now I don’t anymore. Three cheers for that. I pray that someone may come up with the idea of finding a cure for arthritis in the knee. Thank you most heartily.
    FJ Pisani.

  2. bwb
    Reply

    I tried soap for leg cramps, it did not work. I heard about yellow mustard and now when I have leg, foot or calf cramps I take a spoonful of yellow mustard and almost immediately the cramp goes away. Has worked for me every time.

  3. Ruth
    Reply

    I put a bar of soap below my bottom sheet two weeks ago; as I touched it with my foot this morning, I got a cramp in my leg.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
    No guarantees. Some people get relief. Some people get no benefit. And in your case…perhaps the soap caused the cramp. Sorry you had problems.

  4. TRG
    Reply

    RE: LEG CRAMPS First of all, there has to be a handful or more different reasons why people get leg cramps, so likely there’s no silver bullet for all of them. I suffer from one of the most common types and have some very angry words to direct to the person who so cavalierly wrote while relating his theory that it’s not the mustard that provides the relief, it’s the walk to the kitchen — “…stretching the cramp out relieves it within a minute or two.”
    This person would also tell the migraine sufferer “…next time you get a migraine, don’t stress out so much — just relax.” My leg cramps are so severe that I writhe in pain wishing the world to end in between crying for help. I can’t just get on my feet and stretch for a couple of minutes thinking Jane Fonda. The pain gets even worse putting weight on it.
    What is in the mustard that takes the pain away is not the vinegar and is not the turmeric. It is the SALT! 125mg of sodium per teaspoon –one of the four primary electrolytes in the body. The person who wrote that they get cramps the same night as going to the gym earlier that day gets the cramps for not sufficiently replacing the electrolytes in the body during or after exercise.
    When you don’t drink enough water when exercising, you are not providing the muscles the electrolytes they need to behave normally –they contract with excruciating pain. In the 1950’s pro sports teams had salt pill breaks during workouts to replace the salt/electrolytes and water they lost through sweat. Then whoever he was, call him now Mr. Billionaire invented Gatorade to do the same. So soap up all you want –if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. But leg cramps that come from loss of electrolytes go away with Gatorade, salt water, and in a painful pinch, a tablespoon of mustard.
    My favorite? Emergen-C. A packet or 2 dissolved in water that someone has quickly brought ALWAYS stop the pain in seconds. I can’t believe no one around here — including the pharmacist — has mentioned this. SALT !!! ELECTROLYTES !!!! IN A PINCH, SUBSTITUTES.

  5. M.R.
    Reply

    RLS was a problem for me until I started drinking rooibos tea in the evening. A friend told me that rooibos tea is supposed to help the body absorb magnesium. I had already been taking a magnesium tablet with dinner. But now if I recommend rooibos tea to anybody for restless leg syndrome, I tell them that, if it doesn’t help, to try taking some magnesium with it.

  6. richard g.
    Reply

    Crazy or not, it works for me. I use zest.

  7. Nancy C.
    Reply

    Soap in the bed (doesn’t have to be under the bottom sheet) works for me. I also put a hotel size bar in my pocket when playing bridge and no longer get leg cramps. Sometimes people have hand cramps and handing them the soap helped with that too.

  8. BSB
    Reply

    That is a very strange remedy, but maybe it does work. Now and again I get very bad cramp in the night and it seems to be worse if I have done a lot of intense exercise that day.

  9. M.R.
    Reply

    I often had restless legs syndrome, and the soap under the sheet didn’t help. But rooibos tea does! I drink a cup of rooibos tea at dinner or in the evening, and am not bothered by RLS anymore.

  10. gail
    Reply

    I suffered from RLS for a number of years and all by its-self, it wouldn’t of been a problem. I had insomnia also and RLS just added to the over all wakefulness. Read about “the soap thing” took some to bed with me and viola, that problem gone. Recently my better half accidentally washed my soap in a flat bag, all gone. I laughed and didn’t think more about it. Guess what? RLS coming back. She’ll fix it up tonight she sez.

  11. Eremita
    Reply

    Must it be SOAP or may any detergent bar be used, such as Dove or it’s generic?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: WE HEAR THAT PRETTY MUCH ANY BAR YOU WASH WITH CAN BE USED.

  12. Barb S.
    Reply

    Why lower your credibility by posting unproven remedies on your site, like keys down the neck or soap for leg cramps? Unless you have some idea of WHY a remedy works, don’t push it. Yes, there are a lot of gullible people out there, but don’t prey on them.
    Most of your stuff is good but I get tired of seeing the same thing over and over. Novelty keeps it interesting.
    Current research on Vitamin D3 is really exciting. Why not cover more about the many ways it can make life better for so many of us, especially as we age?

  13. MTM
    Reply

    NO it does not have to be Ivory Soap. I starting using the soap under the bottom corner of my fitted sheet a few years ago and it stopped the leg and foot cramps. I use a very small bar of soap (probably from a hotel or cruise) and it works very well. Any brand of soap works for me and I take a small bar along when I’m away from home. Don’t know why or how it works but thank God and People’s Pharmacy that it does work. No meds for me!

  14. BL
    Reply

    I also took quinine pills for at least 10 years and they worked wonderfully well. I have found nothing else so effective, but I do take a nightly sleeping pill and until it wears off early in the morning I do not get cramps. The soap (even 4 bars of it) did not help me at all. I will try Hylands Leg Cramps if I can find it.

  15. C M H
    Reply

    I suffer from R L S. I used to take Quinine pills but since they are not available anymore, I take Ropenole once a day. I feel Ropinole makes me sleepy during the day and would prefer not to use it, however the pills that I can buy over the counter, (some contain Quinine) don’t really work. I will try the bar of Ivory under the sheet.
    C M H

  16. Kathleen H.
    Reply

    Must it be Ivory soap?

  17. Jim G
    Reply

    Where do you put the soap. What is the mechanics of this? Do you use a flake for a finger, a sliver for a foot, a bar for a calf? Does the soap have to touch your skin?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THIS REMEDY HAS NOT BEEN STUDIED, SO THERE ARE NO SCIENTIFIC ANSWERS TO YOUR DOSE QUESTIONS. MOST PEOPLE REPORT THAT A BAR OF SOAP WORKS FOR LEG AND FOOT CRAMPS. IT IS UNDER THE SHEET, SO NOT DIRECTLY TOUCHING, BUT YES, IT NEEDS TO BE IN THE NEAR VICINITY. IF IT SLIDES OFF THE EDGE OF THE MATTRESS, IT SEEMS NOT TO HELP.

  18. roz f.
    Reply

    I suffer from leg cramps. I used to buy quinine pills over the counter, but they are no longer available. I get these cramps severely in my groin. Now I take a teaspoon of mustard, and though it takes awhile, the pain does ease.

  19. Ken H.
    Reply

    Thank you People’s Pharmacy for this remedy which I picked up from you mid 2009. The single occasion on which I have subsequently suffered leg cramps at night, was the one night when my spouse, God bless her, had not replaced the soap tablet. Elderly acquaintances who are grateful to me for introducing them to the benefits of kelp, garlic, cinnamon. cloves, etc., look at me askance when I tell them of this one. You can’t win them all.

  20. Lorraine
    Reply

    I just have to tell you my reaction to putting a sliver of soap inside my sock to help with pain in my foot. I slept with the soap inside my slipper and the next morning my foot was much better. At the same time I was going twice a week for physical therapy. When I told the therapists how I felt the soap had helped, they naturally were skeptical. I have continued this treatment for 5 nights and my foot continues to be better. I have also used it on the calf of my leg for “charley horse” and it helps. Thanks for your neat ideas.

  21. abigail
    Reply

    The BOIRON company sells homeopathic remedies for leg cramps that are effective. These tiny tablets are dissolved under the tongue away from water or food by 15 minutes. The company HYLANDS still sells a homeopathic remedy, also in tiny tablet form, called Leg Cramps, that contains quinine and is effective. These are available in health food and natural food stores or can be ordered by them. Sources can also be found at their on-line sites.

  22. JEH
    Reply

    I have had leg and hip pain for years. When it would get so bad I couldn’t stand it I would go to the Doctor and get a prescription for pain. I would sleep for 2-3 hours as I can’t take pain medication!! I tried Ivory Soap (got laughed out of the house) and I don’t have pain anymore!! I have told several people that could really use it but they think I’m ready for the Loony home – so-o-o I am pain free and they still hurt and are dopey on their meds!!

  23. Ruth W.
    Reply

    I have your book. Been sleeping with the soap and drinking tonic water for 2 years. They work. Don’t know how. Don’t care.

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.