Many years ago, we heard about putting soap under the bottom sheet to ward off nighttime leg cramps. We thought it was implausible, but after hearing from hundreds of people and trying it ourselves with success, we acknowledged that it works. We’ve also heard from readers who grab a bar of soap to stop hand cramps and from some who carry soap chips in their pockets to ease the discomfort from arthritic hips. But one reader wrote recently about a very unusual use for the soap remedy against a scary throat spasm.
How Could Soap Help a Scary Throat Spasm?
Q. I have been sleeping with soap under my bottom sheet for years and have had no leg cramps since I began doing so. I also suffered for years from a terrifying condition known as laryngospasm, during which the vocal cords suddenly seize up and close when taking in a breath, blocking the flow of air. Although the spasm only lasts for a minute or two, the time seems to move so slowly that death feels imminent.
Once during just such a scary throat spasm, I rubbed soap onto the skin at the base of my throat. I hoped it would end the spasm, and it did! The laryngospasm eased within two seconds after I rubbed soap directly on my neck.
Ever since then I’ve worn a silver chain around my neck with a net pouch containing a small piece of soap. Because I made the pouch with pretty netting, I get compliments on my necklace. I always explain what it is and why I take it off only when I shower or go swimming.
A. Thank you for sharing your amazing story. For years, people have laughed about soap for leg cramp prevention. Your story suggests that there is something in soap that can actually stop muscle spasms quickly.
Could TRP Channels Be at Work?
We suspect that soap is working through the same channels as mustard, vinegar and hot pepper that work to ease muscle cramps. Pungent compounds from these condiments, as well as flavors such as cinnamon and ginger, activate TRP (transient receptor potential) channels in the nerves. The signals they trigger desensitize misbehaving neurons at the level of the spinal cord. You can listen to Bruce Bean, PhD, explain this on our Show 1054: The Scientific Explanation for a Weird Remedy.
No one has done a study of soap to find out if it too works through TRP channels. We’ll be watching the research and let you know if and when scientists tackle this question. In the meantime, we are delighted you found a way to control a scary throat spasm.