The People's Perspective on Medicine

Soap Calms Cramps But Causes Discomfort

Q. My husband is a born skeptic when it comes to home remedies, but he eventually allowed me to put a bar of soap under the bottom sheet to combat his frequent nighttime leg cramps. The soap worked. He has not complained about cramps for years thanks to the soap.

He does complain about the lump of soap in bed, however.  He may not suffer from cramps but he hates the feeling of a big bar of soap under his legs or sometimes under his hips or back. It tends to move around a lot and sometimes it even ends up on my side of the bed. I don’t much like the lump of soap either.

A. We know there are a lot of skeptics out there who cannot believe a bar of soap could possibly ease muscle cramps. And we also know that there are people for whom the soap does not work. But we have also heard from hundreds who are convinced that it has made a huge difference in their lives. Here are just a few such stories:

“For forty years my wife would wake up with foot cramps at knight. I would end up massaging her foot until the cramps subsided. Out of pure desperation, she tried the soap.

“I would tease her, calling it her silly soap, but silly or not it works. She hasn’t had foot or leg cramps since she started sleeping with it. Sometimes, however, I have to push that soap bar, lying under the bottom sheet, back over to her side of the bed. It definitely has a severe case of wanderlust. She has not had a cramp in many years. As a result I have not been awakened in the middle of the night from cramping events. Both of us are pleasantly amazed.” Karl

“Several years ago, my Mother, who was 84 years young, shared with me this ‘cure’ for night time leg cramps.  I respectfully asked, ‘And just what kind of scientific principle do we have working here?’  She just said, ‘Go ahead and laugh, it works!’

“I’m a type II diabetic and have long suffered from occasional cramps that were excruciatingly painful; especially one that affects the front of the shin, that literally brings tears to my eyes.

“Arriving back home, almost two months went by and it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t had a cramp for a long time. I mentioned it to my wife who smiled and asked, ‘Was it about the time when we came back from your Mom’s and I put the soap under the bottom sheet?’

“Sure enough, she had placed a sliver of ‘used’ soap under the sheet and viola, no cramps. That was six years ago and the only cramps I’ve had are when the soap dries out and I replace it doggone fast!

“Nothing had changed in my diet, lifestyle or bedroom, except the soap.  To you skeptics, it may not work for you, so don’t do it. There is no need to rain on someone else’s parade unless you’re just plain mean-spirited.” TJ

“Working in the retail business I am on a concrete floor with work boots 8 hours a day. Whenever I had to work a double shift I would get experience leg cramps at 2:00 am. The cramps would last 20 minutes and my cries of pain scared the dog and the wife!

“I started to use a bar of soap for each leg and Whoa Grandpa! I have only had one hint of a leg cramp in 10 months.

“Now the wife sleeps having not to be worrying if I am having a heart attack and the dog thanks me too. So is it an old wives tale… maybe…but it works for me!” Gerry

“I had read of soap working for years and simply could not believe it.  However, having recently starting to have severe leg cramps at night, I bought some new soap.  It wasn’t cramps that showed up however, it was my left foot jerking off and on. It was tremendously annoying.  I took a new bar of soap, never dreaming it would work for me, put it in a sock and put the sock on and all jerking stopped!

“Except then my right foot began to do the same thing. I added soap to my right sock, and instantly the jerking stopped. I simply could not believe it. So glad to read of some science behind this approach.  I was so afraid it was simply the placebo effect and it would not work on me.  I am glad to know you have developed soap chips. They are likely to be more convenient than a bar of soap in the socks.” L.R.

There are a number of theories about how soap works to calm cramps. There are even some scientific articles on the topic.

You can read about the work of an anesthesiologist at this link: “How Does Soap Soothe Cramps?” You will also see that we have developed “Bed Soap” which is a large but flat bar of soap. It is less likely to cause that lumpy feeling that some people complain about. It has a light lavender fragrance to help promote sleep and may also help prevent cramps.

We also developed “Leg Soap” which provides pre-cut soap chips. They fit nicely in socks or in a pocket. Here’s just one testimonial:

“It’s wacky but true. I love the soap chips. I have slept with them in my socks ever since receiving them and they work. No more restless legs or cramps. Thank you so much.” Linda

You can find other soap stories at this link.

Share your silly soap story below. We want to know if it works or if it was a bust for you.

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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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solution to soap discomfort: I measured and marked where the soap is supposed to be, then I sewed a small square bag with a velcro closure. using small safety pins I pinned the four corners to the mattress cover. I pinned mine from the underneath the mattress cover to keep the safety pins out of the way. sometimes my toes get caught but its okay, I just pull them out.

coming from a ha-ha skeptical to a wow believer: I had heard from my daughter that a friend had told her about the soap… I laughed it out of my mind.
One day while reading the Houston Chronicle I read an article in the “People’s Pharmacy” which mentioned soap for cramps and raisins for atheritis. I did the raisins, and years later out of desperation, did the soap. Both are a miracle for me. Since I had saved the newspaper article I have made countless copies for family, friends, and unknown friends friends. Some have been disbelievers like me, but far too many have thanked me for the information. I bought two (2) copies of “the people’s pharmacy home remedies”, one for me and one to lend out. Thanks for all your wonder help.

Traveling and driving long distances? Sitting long hours on a plane? Rub liquid hand-washing soap on legs from the knee down, back and front, do not wash off — instant relief, no cramping, no pain, for hours.
Over eight years of personal experience, and numerous testimonials from friends and relatives with whom I have shared this information. Once I tripped over a water hose lying on the concrete driveway, and fell full body weight “splat” on my right knee and hand; swollen and blue beyond belief, could not bend my fingers. That night I rubbed liquid soap on my knee, did not wash my hand, went to bed. The next morning no bruising or blue discoloration, full flexibility in the hand. Absolutely no evidence that I had fallen!

Geez, all’s you do is cut some shavings off the bar with a sharp knife. Then there’s no bar to be uncomfortable. Also they’re less likely to migrate around.

Ivory works best for me. DOVE does NOT WORK. Liquid soap really helps during the day – just rub it on the affected area for relief in a minute or less.

You may just need a bit more magnesium. Most american diets don’t provide enough. I use a powdered magnesium and it works for both my husbands cramps (which always come after working landscaping) He’s 79 and for me too. I’m 77

If soap doesn’t work for cramps try eating a little yellow mustard. I’ve heard that works, also.

Move the soap to the far side of the bed under the sheet. It works from a distance! And unless you sleep on the edge your feet never touch it at night.

I put the soap at the bottom of the bed on the side of the mattress. The fitted sheet holds it in and keeps it from falling.I just have to watch for it when I strip the bed so it doesn’t end up in the wash.

My husband and I recently moved into the guest room from our bedroom while work was being done in there. My husband started getting leg cramps and foot-jerks every night, waking me with his yelling and jumping out of bed.
I realized that I had forgotten to move our bar of Ivory soap into our new sleeping quarters. Tonight a new bar of soap will go into the bed, once again ensuring that both of us will sleep comfortably.

I rub the soap on my legs every night. That works just as well as putting under the sheet and there is no lump.

I have 5 bars of soap in my bed, my husband, also being a skeptic, is now a FIRM believer!. I put the soap between the sheets, over the end of the bed so there is no kicking it around and it seems to work wonderfully. Hope this helps.

Read for years about soap stopping leg cramps and kind of laughed at the entire scene. Then I started getting jolting cramps in my calves upon wakening in the a.m..
Finally, I recalled the soap story and skeptically put some smaller pieces under the sheets and on top of the mattress pad.
Well, I totally forgot I did it. About a week later upon arising, I realized NO CRAMPS! Then I remembered: SOAP!
If only all medical conditions could be alleviated so easily and safely; we need people to continue sharing their home remedies that have worked for them or someone they know. Thank you.

Soap has been under my sheet for several years. I keep hoping it will work, but it sure doesn’t do a thing for me. Even my hands cramp. What should I do? Getting our of bed 5 or 6 times a night to uncamp my feet and legs sure upsets my sleep. It takes forever to go back. I’d really like some help. ES

I’m still confused…if you put the soap under the bottom sheet, it does not come into contact with skin at all. If you put soap in your socks, the bar of soap is held against the skin of the bottom of your feet.
So what is the most effective placement of the soap, under the bottom sheet where it does not come into contact with any skin, or under the top sheet where it would touch skin and get kicked around?

If you are complaining about the soap moving around just put it in a sock or some other cloth item and pin the sock to the mattress so it doesn’t move. DUH! By the way my wife uses it and it does work.

You don’t have to use a new bar of soap. You can wait until the bar is almost used up, so that it doesn’t make such a big lump.

We, my husband and myself, are using the flat soap I ordered from People’s Pharmacy. I got leg cramps and so bad that I had to get up and walk around to ease the pain.
Soap has stoppd that and very rarely do I even have a sign of a cramp. Thanks from both of us. It seems to help restless legs also.
Now if I could only find something to help me sleep better. oh well.

For many years I advised patients to put in a flat box [or a few boxes][not to ruin the mattress] at the foot end of the bed UNDER the mattress some rusty nails…….this seems to work in most cases. [from the book: Volksgeneeskunst in Nederland en Vlaanderen[Paul van Dijk]
After seeing the soap advice on your site I sometimes also advise this [a bit easier……..don’t have to buy nails] but I advise as well to putt it under the mattress, so it should not bother.
So maybe this can be tried instead of:………… He does complain about the lump of soap in bed, however.  He may not suffer from cramps but he hates the feeling of a big bar of soap under his legs or sometimes under his hips or back. It tends to move around a lot and sometimes it even ends up on my side of the bed. I don’t much like the lump of soap either.
People’s Pharmacy response: At the risk of sounding self-serving, I would like to point out that our bed soap was specifically designed with a low-profile so it wouldn’t cause an uncomfortable lump in the bed. Here’s the link:

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