logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Glycerin Gives Leg Cramps the Slip

Glycerin Gives Leg Cramps the Slip
Glycerin humectant glycerine skin

Q. I suffer with severe cramps in my toes and legs when I am in bed. Soap under the sheet made no difference, but a friend suggested glycerin instead.
I found a bottle at Walmart, and it is the best $3.88 I’ve ever spent. I put a few drops on my toes at bedtime and sleep peacefully all night long.

A. Glycerin is a clear liquid used as a lubricating ingredient in soap or other personal care products. You are not the first reader to report that it helps prevent cramps. Here is another story:

I was troubled with severe leg cramps an hour or two after going to bed on the days when I’d exercised on the rowing machine. Then I read that people get relief by placing a bar of soap under the under the bed sheet near the legs. It worked, but the effectiveness of the soap seemed to diminish over time.

I wondered what might disappear from an ordinary soap bar. The one ingredient I could think of was glycerin. So I bought a bottle of it at the drugstore and tried rubbing some on the skin over my leg muscles, much like applying a moisturizing lotion. I found this eliminated cramping.

I even experimented by leaving one leg untreated; ouch, it cramped! Glycerin has been working for me about a year now. Perhaps others might find it as effective and more convenient than positioning soap bars in bed.

This experimental approach is interesting, even though it is an “n of 1.” Your anecdotal experience suggests that possibly others would also benefit from trying glycerin to prevent nighttime leg cramps. We suggest several other possibilities in our Guide to Leg Pain.

Rate this article
5- 2 ratings
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. .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.