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Reader Rejects Soap for Leg Cramps!

Reader Rejects Soap for Leg Cramps!

Six years ago we heard from a reader that putting a bar of soap between sheet and the mattress pad (in the general) vicinity of the legs) might prevent or ease nighttime leg cramps. Over the intervening years we have received hundreds of testimonials that indeed soap is magical at easing cramps and even restless leg syndrome. Some people have even written to tell us that soap helps against arthritis and peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain).

Arthritis:

“I recently read your article concerning soap for relief of arthritis pain. I decided to give it a try. I have a bar of soap under the fitted sheet of our bed and have been astounded at how well it works. I have found that small pieces of soap in my socks work better for me than soap in a pocket. My husband thought I’d lost my mind but I encouraged him to try the soap in a pocket or sock. It works for him also. I’ve been pain-free for the first time in several years. After trying many arthritis medications and finding none that my stomach could tolerate, I had decided I would just have to live with the pain as best I could. I, too, am curious as to how the soap works but will simply be satisfied in knowing that it works for me. Thank you for the great service you provide through your newspaper column and website.” From a newspaper reader in Lawton, OK; 2/15/07

Nerve Pain:

“I too tried the soap under the sheet and found it effective. But I am most grateful for another suggestion that has been a wonderful pain reliever for me…. holding a bar of soap in one’s hands for peripheral neuropathy. Over two years ago I suddenly began to experience severe tingling and numbness in my hands and lower arms–usually in the early morning hours–that would waken me with miserable discomfort sometimes lasting as long as 3 hours. No amount of rubbing or shaking would stop the pain. Incidentally, I was also having occasional sciatica and hip aches. My doctor prescribed Gabapentin (Neurontin) that worked wonders for the leg and hip pain but really didn’t affect the tingling and numbness in my hands and arms. Someone wrote to you about holding a bar of soap in one’s hands to relieve tingling. I am delighted and relieved that this works like magic for me. When I feel an “attack” coming on, I immediately grab that lovely little bar of soap, and the pain disappears in 20-30 seconds! The pain is now restricted just to my hands and doesn’t creep up to my elbows. If the pain has been going on awhile, it takes as long as 1-2 minutes…but it always works. Who knows how? Maybe it’s an accupressure kind of thing. But my sincere thanks to you and your column for this wonderful pain reliever.

Karen, June 29, 2010

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We are the first to admit that we cannot come up with a rational reason why soap in bed would help against cramps or RLS, arthritis or nerve pain. On the other hand, soap is cheap and as far as we can tell is far less likely to have side effects than heavy duty medicine. Of course, there will always be doubters and we honor their skepticism. Here is just the latest example of someone who doesn’t believe the soap couple work. We welcome your responses.

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This absolutely has to be psychological. How could soap have any affect on leg cramps? What is the ingredient that makes cramps magically disappear? People claim this works even if the soap remains in the wrapper. Doesn’t that tell you something? Until someone does a double blind experiment that shows positive results, I’m just not buying it.

Sue, Aug. 7, 2010

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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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