bars of soap, soap for neuropathy

Do you suffer from nerve pain? This type of pain can be quite difficult to treat. Medications such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica) may ease the discomfort, especially at first. However, both drugs can trigger adverse reactions that may be very unpleasant. In addition, people sometimes have trouble stopping the medicines. Have you ever tried a peculiar home remedy like soap for neuropathy? It might not work, but it is unlikely to cause harm. One skeptical reader tried it and reported benefit for both the neuropathic pain and for the restless legs syndrome (RLS).

Soap for Neuropathy and RLS:

Q. I have RLS and minor neuropathy in my left foot. I was taking ropinirole to treat it.

A lady in my church group suggested soap. I am a “Doubting Thomasina,” so I was skeptical.

However, I bought a pack of lavender soap and a mesh bag to put it in.

I missed the instructions about putting it under the bottom sheet, so I sat here in my recliner with soap between my foot and right leg. I brought the bag to bed with me and slept with it. WOW! I woke up from the best sleep I have gotten in a long time. My neuropathy is much less intense.

I can’t speak for others, but it works for me. A six pack of soap cost $1.97 and a mesh bag at $2 is super affordable.

Muscle and Nerve Connections Are Sensitive to Soap Fragrance:

A. Muscle cramps and restless leg syndrome (RLS) are both conditions involving the connections between muscles and nerves. We suspect that the fragrance in many soaps (limonene) stimulates specialized TRP channels. This effect may cause the overactive nerves to relax.

Not everyone will benefit from soap for neuropathy or RLS as much as you did. Nonetheless, many readers have found the soap remedy helpful.

The TRP Channel Explanation:

What, you may wonder, is a TRP channel? TRP stands for transient receptor potential. These are channels in cells that shuttle ions of crucial elements like calcium or potassium where they need to be. Sensory neurons have TRPA1 channels that help them detect harmful substances (Sousa-Valente et al, British Journal of Pharmacology, May 2014). When limonene is applied directly to the skin, it activates the TRPA1 channels and causes pain, but “systemic application” inhibits pain (Kaimoto et al, European Journal of Pain, Aug. 2016). Presumably, keeping the soap close to the leg permits the limonene to act systemically.

Other essential oil components may also have analgesic activity (de Cassia da Silveira et al, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Dec. 9, 2017). Like limonene, they may well be acting through TRP channels.

Researchers have confirmed that TRP channels are important in the development of neuropathy (Ding et al, Cell Discovery, Aug. 1, 2017). That would help explain the benefit of soap for neuropathy. So far as we can tell, no scientists have investigated whether TRP channels are responsible for RLS.

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  1. Trish

    Read again about soap in bed for leg cramps and RLS. You suggested most soaps have limonene. I read the ingredients on all the different bar soaps in a large drug store and found none that listed limonene. Asked the pharmacist and he never heard of it. So I go back to Ivory or a bag of left-over small hotel soaps and bingo it still works like a charm. Few if any leg cramps at night. Limonene ??? What??

  2. donald c.

    Use soap remnants . i.e. Left over bar of soap , or the size you would see in a motel. I place it in my socks touching the lower part of my calf to alleviate muscle cramps in my calf. At night I wear socks to bed and slide the soap down until it touches the sole of my foot. The original comment I saw about this was to use Ivory. However, we use other brands at the house, and they work wonders. Actually I keep my soap in my sock at all times, as low as possible without causing a problem walking.

    The soap cure above also works on muscle spasms elsewhere. I had a spasm under my right shoulder blade that continued for 2 weeks, getting worse every day. It hurt to roll over in bed or to cough. I had my wife tape a piece of soap over the shoulder blade one morning, and by 11:00 p.m.
    the spasm was gone. This was after the spasm had been there for 2 weeks. I have never had a muscle relaxer or anything else provide relief that quickly. This worked so well I wanted to share because something as cheap is unheard of as a cure. Try it. You will like it.

  3. Deborah S.

    Every time I have stabbing neuropathy in my foot or leg, I instantly get out a bar of soap. If I’m up and at home I just hold it to the area that is hurting and the pain goes away in seconds. I always have a bar of soap under my covers at night next to my feet or legs and it prevents the pain during the night too. I’m a firm believer!

  4. Bob
    Monroe, NC

    I have a friend who has terrible pain resulting from having had shingles and is taking strong pain medicine. Would using soap or Vicks be helpful for the pain of shingles?

  5. Melissa
    New Zealand

    I have found that moisturizer on my feet stops restless legs instantly. I recommended it to a friend and it worked for her, too.

  6. John

    Do you think taking some fresh orange peels to bed might do the same as the soap bar?

  7. Diane
    Western Washington

    Perhaps I missed something re the limonene and its application. Is this an ingredient in soap, and if not, where does one buy it? And then how to apply to skin.

    Thank you,


    • Tammy

      Most soaps contain limonene, so just check the ingredient list before buying. Put the bar of soap under your fitted sheet towards the bottom of your bed near your feet. My mom and uncle have had great results with this.

      I’m wondering if you could put a hotel size bar of soap in your socks and get similar results. Worth a try.

  8. Jim
    Chapel Hill NC

    Do you have any brand names of soap that may have the ingredient limonene? Rarely do I see an ingredient list on soap wrappers. Thanks

  9. GW

    I have had RLS since I was a teen. I am now 65 and have been free of RLS ever since I began taking Alpha Lipoic Acid a few years ago. I was not taking it specifically for RLS, but realized after several months of taking it, that my RLS had all but disappeared. I really don’t know if there is a connection or not, just wanted to throw my two cents into the pot.

  10. Susan

    I have really bad leg cramps at night causing me to pace the floors in pain. I also have neuropathy (from Crestor). Even being very skeptical, I tried putting a bar of soap under the sheet. It didn’t help at all. BUT, in desperation, I threw a 2nd bar of soap in for good measure… and it works! It really works! So now I have the two bars in my bed every night. No cramps! Yipee! Honestly, if one bar doesn’t work, add another one. if it quits working, just change them for 2 new ones.

    Thank you so much for telling about this.

  11. RR

    I wonder if utilizing some sort of Lavender oil infused on something would work. Also what kind of Lavender soap is the best, how does one keep it between the feet?

    • SARA H.
      North Carolina

      RR, I was wondering the same thing, as I move my legs (which includes the feet!) around so much during the night changing positions! How do we keep the soap bars at our neuropathic feet? I was thinking: Do we tie two bars to each foot? I’ve had these neuropathic feet for over two years now, and it’s maddening!

      • Hal

        Sarah H. in NC asked, “How do we keep the soap bars at our neuropathic feet?”
        Previous articles in peoplespharmacy DOT com (or their reader’s comments) on the subject of the *prevention* of night-time Leg Cramps and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) have mentioned the following methods of keeping soap near your legs:

        1) Washing your legs with soap and letting the lather dry on your legs. Socks, stockings or pajama bottoms with legs can be used to prevent it from rubbing off during the night.

        2) A wide, thin wafer of soap — or several — (or the very thin soap bars sold in the People’s Pharmacy store) can be inserted into socks that you wear while sleeping. (“People’s Pharmacy Bed Soap”)

        3) One or more bars of soap or large soap wafers can be placed under the bottom sheet so they’re not able to be kicked away during the night. If one bar is not helpful, try more bars/wafers. They’re not expensive.

        I personally take multi-vitamin multi-mineral supplements at bedtime to try and insure I’m not missing any trace elements that my leg nerves and muscles need to avoid RLS and Leg Cramps during the night.

        Additional treatments (that I recall having read on peoplespharmacy DOT com) intended to *immediately* stop a leg cramp *while* it is occurring, include, (among others):

        – a taste of mustard (small packets on your nightstand are convenient),
        – a swig of pickle juice,
        – a swig of vinegar,
        – a swig of quinine water (Note: some people have a bad reaction to quinine). I’ve also read of quinine water being used on a preventative basis.

        When I get a painful calf muscle leg cramp, I stand my full weight on the ball of my foot of the affected leg in order to stretch the cramped muscle out to its normal length. After the ongoing cramp has been stopped by doing this, I then walk back and forth for several minutes to repeatedly stretch and relax my calf muscle.

        I surmise that this enhances blood flow and helps normalize conditions in the affected muscles and nerves. You must be careful to not lose your balance while standing on the ball of one foot after suddenly being roused from deep sleep by a calf cramp.

        Forcibly stretching *any* cramped leg muscle and then walking seems to reliably stop the cramping for me. I then take an additional multi-vitamin multi-mineral supplement to help prevent the recurrence of the cramp. However, its benefits take quite some time to take effect, since it has to make its way to the bloodstream on its way to my legs. Note that this is in contrast to the effect of the treatments for immediate relief listed above.

        Regarding limonene’s use as a “fragrance in many soaps”:
        webmd DOT com says:
        “In pharmaceuticals, limonene is added to help medicinal ointments and creams penetrate the skin.”

        cosmeteics DOT org says:
        “Limonene is a colorless liquid with a light, fresh, and sweet citrus odor used to make fragrances and flavors.”

        It seems to me that when limonene is used as an aromatic fragrance in soap, its additional property — of being able to help other molecules from the soap penetrate the skin — might be what is enabling them to enter the body and prevent RLS and leg cramps.

        Regarding what kind of soap to use, try a brand that other people have said works for them (e.g.: “Irish Spring”.) If one brand doesn’t work, try another. And *please* report your results in attempting to control your RLS or leg cramps. Thanks!

      • Hal

        In my previous reply I forgot to mention that another important factor in preventing leg cramps is to insure that you are adequately hydrated before going to bed.

        If the effectiveness of the bars of soap diminishes, you can scrape or shave a thin layer off of them (both top and bottom) to expose fresh soap. This can be done repeatedly, as needed.

  12. ann

    please send this to me, marene,

  13. Pat

    Wonder if rubbing feet with lavender oil would work

  14. TERRY

    Could you just put the bar of soap in a pillowcase and keep near leg?

  15. TASmith
    Brady, Texas

    I am so glad to find this. I have neuropathy terribly. I do purchase essential oils but did not about the soap. Can I use the soaps I make it is there a way to order?

  16. Pat R.

    Would you please explain what “systemic application” means in this context? Clearly it does NOT mean to ingest the substance to get it moving through the body’s various systems. But if one is not to apply the substance “topically,” that is, directly to the skin, where IS the substance applied?

    Thank you!

  17. Bonnie

    A bar of “Irish Spring” soap between the sheets has worked well for years to avoid night leg cramps. I’ve added lavender scented body lotion for my lower legs and feet right before bed, and that addition seems to work even better.

  18. edna

    This response mentioned Lavender Soap, does any soap get the same results

  19. Betty

    I don’t know how the soap could help. But I do KNOW that drinking much water will pad or cushion the nerves that are causing the pain. Drink much water!!!! Much.

  20. Petra
    Puerto Rico

    I leave soap under my fitted sheet permanently. Months ago I was having terrible cramps and read about soap. The first night in I was relieved of the cramps. Have told many people since.
    Soap is also very good at relieving itch from insect bites.

  21. Marciab.

    I have had a bar of soap under my sheet in bed for years. I get restless legs. With the soap it never happens.

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