The People's Perspective on Medicine

Fresh Soap Renews Anti-Cramp Effect

Q. I have been plagued with horrible leg cramps at night for years. I read about putting a bar of soap under the bottom sheet to prevent them and used the same bar for three months.
Suddenly I had cramps again for three nights in a row. I read that Ivory soap works best so I placed a fresh bar at the bottom of the bed and the cramps went away.

A. We can’t explain why soap under the sheet helps some people ward off nighttime leg cramps. We have heard from several other readers that the effect can wear off after a few months. Replacing the bar of soap seems to renew the effect.
So far as we can tell, any type of soap seems to help those who respond to this remedy. We have designed a large flat bar of Bed Soap designed to fit smoothly under the bottom sheet and not get in the way, while still helping to prevent toe, foot or leg cramps. It is scented with lavender, reputed to aid drowsiness.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I laughed at this…then I tried it. it does work….I keep a bar of soap in my bed at all times now. no more cramps. a friend from kentucky told me about it.

Where do you put the bar of soap (under the calves of legs, under thighs?) Someone said to have contact with the sole of your feet?? I’m confused & have leg cramps so I want to try it. Any specific brand of soap?

I could not believe this would work – but it did!!
The other night I started to have leg cramps and I thought maybe the soap had lost it’s power. I got up and looked and the soap was gone. It had apparently fallen out of the end of the bed where the sheet was not tucked in well.
I put it back in a more secure place and so far……NO LEG CRAMPS!! Such a simple and cheap cure.
Thanks People’s Pharmacy. My daughter had read this and told me about it.

I used to get very bad cramps time to time, sometimes it got so bad that I had it 3-4 times a day. I never tried soap before. One day my grandma said it is a sign for lack of Magnesium in my body. When I take one Magnesium tablet the cramps do not come back for at least half a year after it. It works every time and this is the only reason I have magnesium at home.
I heard someone said that Zinc has the same effect, but I never tried it myself.

My problem is that I get horrible cramps in my feet but it doesn’t happen when I’m in bed. It happens when I am up. My toes completely lock up and I get severe pain in my feet. Is there any remedy that will work when you are not in bed?

What works very well for cramps is to pinch the skin (& flesh) of the upper lip below the nose with your thumb and forefinger as soon as the cramp starts. Do not grab the calf or other cramp area. This works great but it is hard to pinch the upper lip and not grab your calf.

I do thank everyone for their suggestions. MM

The soap has worked for me – very well – but it does seem to lose effectiveness after a while. Now I see it’s not just my imagination.
The shavings: Of course, put them into any smallish container, add water and allow to become soap gel. Use it as you would a bar !

I think Susan and Victoria mean that they ‘shave’ or ‘peel’ the outer surface off of the bar of soap like you would do to a potato. Then they put the bar of soap back under the bed sheet and it relieves cramps again just like it did when it was new.

I think victoria b. l. was suggesting you would reuse the main soap bar after it was shaved. Shavings could be tossed, or used for another purpose.

I simply put a new bar of soap under the sheet whenever I need the old bar for the shower, so I always have a fairly fresh soap. What a difference it makes for me – both for leg cramps and for restless leg syndrome!

Do you put the Shaved soap pieces in some type of container?

I would like to hear more. The soap has worked well for my husband, who used to frequently get cramps in the night. It has not happened for years, thanks to the soap. I think the flat bed soap sounds like a GREAT idea since my 5’2″ self always seems to feel that lump in the king-sized bed!

just shave the bar of soap…it gets too pressed and the sulfur can’t diffuse out…I shave the same bar several times before tossing….works well for months….

I have found that if I remove the soap and use my potato peeler all over it, it renews it’s effect. I get leg cramps all the time, but I have found they are lessened at night since I started using C-Pap for sleep apnea. It makes me wonder if there is some correlation, between the two.

Since I began putting soap under my bed sheet, when I do have a cramp they go away. Sometimes I get cramps in my fingers, If I put my hands near the soap the cramp goes away. My mother said old fashioned remedies are a gift from God.
When my daughter visited the James Herriot Museum in Thirst, Yorkshire, I purchased a book of Old Fashion Remedies that is interesting to read. One suggestion is making tea out of Nettles for iron.
This does work. During WWI and WWII many folks in the British Isles would make Nettle soup and cook Nettles as we cook Kale.
Growing up in the 1940’s and 1950’s, my mother would make me drink hot lemon water for a cold. As a toddler and up into sixth grade, I was not allowed to drink sodas unless it was to drink after taking Sulfa if I had
Strep throat. While getting Flouride treatments, I was only allowed candy
one day a month.
Sometimes, old ways are best.

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