The People's Perspective on Medicine

Can A Bar of Soap Stop a Cough or Laryngospasm?

Are you getting tired of reading that a bar of soap can ease muscle cramps? We get it. We frequently write about this remedy. But here are some new soap stories, including laryngospasm.

We have been writing about the amazing power of soap to stop leg cramps, ease restless leg syndrome and control hand cramps for years. Initially these stories seemed too good to be true. And yet we have heard from hundreds, if not thousands, of people who insisted soap helped control their muscle cramps. And let’s face it, a bar of soap is inexpensive and safe. We never imagined that soap might also help calm a cough or help control laryngospasm. We must emphasize, that an emergency spasm or constriction requires immediate emergency treatment!

A Reader Reports on Esophageal Stricture:

Q. For several years, I’ve had bouts of constrictive esophagus, which meant an emergency trip to the ER to have it “ballooned” (expanded). The episodes became more frequent and the last ones were weeks apart.

Since I’m a long-time user of soap in my bed for leg cramps, as the symptoms began again, I placed a bar next to my throat and the tightening immediately stopped. When I needed help after that, it was always soap to the rescue. Soon the episodes stopped completely. It’s been over three years since that last ER visit.

In addition, my husband had a hacking cough, morning, noon and night. Nothing would stop it. During one bout, I put a bar of soap on the front of his throat, and the cough stopped. I made him a ‘necklace’ with a knee-high nylon stocking that has chips of soap knotted into it. As long as he wears it, he doesn’t cough.

A. We are intrigued by your report. It is quite similar to another amazing story we heard from a person with laryngospasm. That reader also made a necklace to allow wearing a chip of soap at the throat to prevent the spasm.

Here is a link to this amazing laryngospasm story:

How Does Soap Work?

We don’t know how soap would work in such situations, but we suspect it is activating TRP (transient receptor potential) channels in the nerves. That may prevent them from going into overdrive and causing unwanted spontaneous muscle contractions–cramps in your legs or spasms in your esophagus.

Here is a link a more detailed explanation of TRP channels and soap.

Other Stories from Readers:

Joan in St. Louis shared this intriguing story:

“I have difficulty swallowing pills so I decided to put some soap on my neck after reading about the woman with laryngospasm. 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.”

Martin in Woodstock, Illinois, loves our Bed Soap:

“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 affected 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 it works for us all.”

You can learn more about Bed Soap at this link. It has extra limonene, an ingredient that we think is especially helpful against muscle cramps. You can learn more about limonene at this link.

Share your own soap story below in the comment section. And remember that any constriction of the esophagus or throat, including laryngospasm, requires immediate emergency medical treatment!

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I have been using a bar of soap (Dove, which I had on hand) to stop horrific charley horses. As long as I touch the soap underneath the sheet it works like a charm. I have leg movements during the night so I have moved the bar soap higher to touch my thighs and the charley horses stop! I will try the soap for coughing and hand cramping too. So wonderful to have this relief without adding a medication!

My mom suffers end-stage Alzheimer’s and she has a LOT of difficulty swallowing because she forgets. Now I will put a bar of soap between her clavicles so it’s near her throat. I kid you not she swallows afterward without choking. I don’t know if it is the soap or simply a small thing resting on the base of her throat reminding her to swallow — doesn’t matter all I care about it helps a LOT. A small travel bar is sufficient.

Thanks to CID above for giving us the names of soaps that don’t work. I’m surprised the article doesn’t mention this important fact.

Please tell us what brand of soap you have used for laryngospasm. Thanks

Does one soap brand work better than another

Yes you write about soap for leg cramps often, but its worth it if folks may have missed it. One note you might mention more often that I found in one of your older books but not since then: any soap will work Except Dove or Dial. As commenters above found by trying Dove. It would be a help to tell folks this so they don’t try this remedy with one of the brands that doesn’t work & then abandon it b/c they think it doesn’t work for them.

I say this BA of soap colony is just that.The mind is operating not the soap.

Dear Gusto, after reading all the soap stories, I figured I had to try it, as I would get calf spasms just as I was awakening in the morning – not a pleasant way to start the day. Stuck a used bar of our bath soap under the sheet where my calf would be….. and truly forgot about doing so. It was probably a week later when I suddenly realized one morning: No spasms! I was amazed. I had not had spasms. No mind over matter, I had totally forgotten about the soap placement. Now when I start to get a spasm it is a reminder to replace that bar of soap, which is probably about 3-4x a year. As soon as I replace the soap, no more spasms. Give it a try!

I was given a bar of Irish Spring soap for leg pain. The bar is curved and I place it right behind my knee, fits perfectly and always works.

I had my first episode of laryngospasm several years ago. I have both acid and non-acid reflux. So, over time I have had to manage my diet, trigger foods, not eat anything two-three hours before bedtime and have an adjustable bed for my head. It’s all very helpful.

When I do have a laryngospasm, which is like a “charlie-horse” of my vocal cords I don’t panic. I close my mouth and breathe through my nose and with pursed lips slowly let the air out. This relaxes my vocal cords and within 15 seconds or so I am fine. My GERD sometimes irritates my esophagus thus creating an irritation to the vocal cords and that is the reason for my issue.

I haven’t tried any soap or other alternative. But this is what I believe: if something works for you, then it works for you! We all have differences and one size NEVER fits all! I am a male who is 70 years young and in fairly good health. Exercise and movement is vital for me!

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