soap for hand cramps, stop hand cramps

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.

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  1. Lise

    What happened to your flat lavender soaps, so convenient under the sheets? Do you still sell those soaps?

  2. Joan
    Saint Louis

    I have difficulty swallowing pills so I decided to put some soap on my neck after reading about the woman with laryngospasms. It worked; swallowing was so much easier. I then decided to try Dove soap for sensitive skin (no fragrance) the next day. It hardly worked at all. I went back to the other soap and have been so happy. I hope it continues to work so the pills do not get caught in my throat.

  3. Cassandra

    Many readers – including me – have asked about brands or ingredients in soap that make it effective. Joe and Terry, why don’t you answer those questions? I find in reader’s comments and questions on many topics that questions and concerns are rarely answered.

    It’s quite disappointing to give only partial information when obviously people are looking to you for relief.
    That complaint aside, I do get valuable information and appreciate your work. Thank you.

    • Terry Graedon

      For a long time, we did not know what the relevant ingredients might be. We are still not certain, but it seems that fragrance might be critical. So choose soap with a scent.

    • Julie

      Irish Spring, Dial, Ivory… Real soap not beauty bars like Dove. Any scented real bar soap is worth a try.

  4. Karen
    Concord NC

    Just try whatever soap you have. I have the worn down pieces of Dial from the shower. Put em in a knee high stocking or a little bag with a draw string so they don’t escape. And yes, this works for my leg cramps.

  5. Daisy Mae

    I use soap under my bed sheets and it works fine. After reading all the comments regarding the varied uses with soap that has helped others, I believe I may do some personal experimenting to see if it works with other pains in my body as well.

  6. Rosemary Conte
    Matawan, NJ

    The uses of soap for various kinds of relief is certainly intriguing. As a trained hypnosis therapist/counselor, my first thought was that many people are highly suggestible, and that belief, as far as healing is concerned, if everything!

    I tried soap under the bottom sheet to relieve my leg cramps, and it didn’t work for me. Perhaps it’s because of my hypnosis work; I am aware and alert to suggestion.

  7. Marti
    Woodstock, IL

    Throat spasm is probably closely related to leg muscle spasms. I’ve got to say….bed soap is the BEST!! I can, in a state of half sleep, feel a muscle cramp shaping up and lie my effected foot or leg upon the soap beneath my sheet and….miracle of miracles, the spasm ends. I have turned several people on to this and works for us all.

  8. ariel

    I am wondering if soap would help with asthma attack?

    • Geri

      I have heard about this and plan to put a bar of soap under my sheets tonight. I wonder – does it matter what kind of soap it is. Can anyone answer that? Thanks.

  9. sandra

    I get painful esophageal spasms with pain in chest, neck and shoulders simulating a heart attack. Does anyone know if soap would have the same positive effect that it has for leg cramps and throat cramps?

  10. Alberta

    I am in a choir, but unfortunately have a problem with always sticky mucus at the back of my throat. Can any thing at all get rid of this problem. Thank you.

    • Jan

      You may be experiencing acid reflux. Consider talking to you doctor. The doctor may recommend taking a course of an acid reducer like oversold.

  11. Mary Reddington

    What kind of soap is being used?

  12. Kathleen

    It would be helpful if you would be more specific in your stories about home remedies. For example in this story, what kind of soap was used? Does any soap work?

  13. Susan

    I keep seeing posts about the soap for muscle spasms…but WHAT KIND of soap? There are so many brands out there with so many different ingredients. Are you using plain old Ivory Soap? Thanks for answering!

  14. Martha

    Does it matter what kind of soap, since there are so many kinds? (Dove, ivory, dial, lava, etc).

  15. Donna

    What kind of soap? I buy soap from the farmers market or health food store.

  16. Cassandra

    What are some brands of soaps that readers use successfully? I ask because some products that I call soap bill themselves not as soap, but cleansing bars or beauty bars and may not have enough actual soap to provide relief.

    • Terry Graedon

      One popular brand is Ivory. It was the fragrance used in Ivory soap that was tested in Dr. Ough’s experiments. Another popular brand: Irish Spring. We suspect the fragrance is as important as the soap, if not more so.

  17. Patty

    Does any kind of soap work? Which ones were used.

  18. J Sami

    I to suffer from laryngospasm. I would love to try this ~ what kind of bar-soap do I use?

    • Rose
      Raymond, MS

      Dial soap works well for me.

  19. Hilary Lemon

    I wonder what type of soap is used? I have recently started making my own soap using essential oils, even a ‘Pears’ type soap, which has oils like thyme and rosemary which could contribute to helping arthritis; also antispasmodic oils for coughs etc. Essential oils are incredibly useful and versatile in their use, with only small amounts required.

  20. M

    I wonder if this soap remedy would work for dogs??

    My 11 year old Boston suffers from reverse sneeze. Sounds horrid to hear!! If I am with her, I try to calm her and with encouragement, she seems to be learning to end it. Ever hear of effect on short snouted dogs??

  21. Sherry Reiver
    Waxhaw, NC

    I think no one has done a study because it would be a cheap easy fix and the drug companies wouldn’t be happy about that!

  22. Melinda
    Flagstaff, AZ

    What a coincidence! I was JUST diagnosed this afternoon with laryngospasms by my ENT doctor. I had never heard of them before, but for about a year my throat has been clamping shut and cutting off my breathing whenever I cough. I will definitely try the sea technique.

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