The People's Perspective on Medicine

Soap for RLS When Taking Long Flights

Drugs for restless leg syndrome are pricey and come with some scary side effects. Would you believe soap for RLS might solve this hard-to-treat problem?

Have you ever read a real soap story? No, we’re not talking about soap operas. These were TV dramas frequently sponsored by soap manufacturers. The soap stories we’re talking about have to do with using soap to counteract muscle cramps. We are also impressed with the number of people who have used soap for RLS (restless leg syndrome).

What is RLS?

If you have never experienced RLS it is hard to describe. In this condition, people have an uncontrollable urge to move their legs. Some people describe it as jumpy legs. Others call it a creepy-crawly feeling. There can be a kind of tugging, burning or pulling sensation. The irritation under the skin and inside the legs only eases temporarily when the victim paces, jiggles or moves the legs.

Here is a question we have received from a visitor to this website:

Will Soap for RLS Make it Possible to Travel?

Q. I have a terrible time with restless legs while flying long distances. I recently had an overnight flight from the west coast (US) to London, and it was awful.

It makes me be hesitant to travel, and I’d like to travel! Has anyone had this problem and used soap to solve an RLS problem?

A. It’s funny that you ask. We first heard of using soap under the bottom sheet for nighttime leg cramps. (Here’s a link to a recent article).

Then we started hearing from people that soap for RLS was also a thing. Not everyone benefits, but we have been surprised by how many people have gotten relief from this approach.

Stories from Readers About Soap for RLS:

A skeptic changed his tune:

“I was one heck of a skeptic when I heard about putting soap in the bed to calm restless legs syndrome. In fact, I laughed at the person who told me about it. However, I have suffered with RLS for several years, so I decided to give it a try.

“Well, I had to eat a little humble pie. Not only does soap work, it works in a matter of 30 seconds to a minute. I’m sure it will not work for everyone, every time. But it sure has helped me and a dozen people I’ve told about it. We may not know exactly how it works and there may be folks who think it is bogus. Well, they are just plain wrong.

“I put my bar of soap in a pillowcase and rest my leg or legs on the pillow under the cover. This works to ease the restlessness every time.”

John in Texas counters the “illogical” reaction from skeptics:

“The function of bar soap in easing RLS and/or leg cramps is not illogical, at all. Take a course in logic, and find out what constitutes illogicality. That it works (effect) appears to be well established. That it does not work in every case is beside the point. The factor of causality in either case simply has yet to be determined.”

Gary in Costa Rica reports:

“This does work. I wish I knew why. My experience is that after 6-12 months the soap bars can lose their effectiveness. So when my leg begins acting up again, I pull out the old bars and put in new soap bars (little ones or a big hand bar) and presto, within one night the RLS disappears again. I can’t imagine how or who ever discovered this but am glad someone did.”

Can We Explain Soap for RLS?

We know that the skeptics do not believe this is anything but a placebo effect. We also suspect that scientists are unlikely to study this remedy. Hey, soap is cheap. Who is likely to spend millions to test soap for RLS?

That said, we think we have an explanation. First, we strongly suspect that restless leg syndrome is linked to nerve hyperexcitability. This explanation is not that different from the mechanism behind muscle cramps. We now know that when nerves go into hyperdrive they can stimulate muscle to cramp. We think restless leg syndrome is related.

We have come up with a hypothesis regarding TRP channels. To learn more about how this might work, here is a link.

Chips of Soap for RLS is more convenient:

Several years ago an acquaintance told us that she suffered the same problem as the woman at the top of this article. Restless leg syndrome is horrific, especially on long airplane flights. She remembered the soap stories she had read on this website and decided to try putting soap chips in her socks during her next long flight. The soap trick worked like a charm.

After hearing this story we developed “Leg Soap.” Our soap manufacturer came up with a way to create small chips of soap especially for socks. They can be used during the day, on trips, or at night while lying in bed. Here is a link to Leg Soap:

Not everyone gets relief with soap chips. We cannot explain why one person says it’s great and another is disappointed. Then again, that happens with FDA-approved prescription drugs that carry lots of warnings. We must point out that the FDA has NOT approved Leg Soap for RLS. Neither has the CDC, the EPA, nor any other federal agency.

Stories from Readers Using Leg Soap:

L.G.R. offers this:

“Works for me too. Love the soap chips in my socks. But, because I am on a limited budget, I used them over and over to make them last. And then my feet started jerking again! Within 1 min after replacing them with fresh chips, I got complete relief! I too place the soap wherever the cramp is and it works.

“I have also used them in long compression socks and they stop severe calf leg cramps too!”

Lucille in Texas says:

“I like it and so does my husband. He uses it for restless leg and I for cramps. So far, it seems to work. Better than anything else I have tried.”

LimeyLass in Florida was happy with the results:

“My husband thought I was crazy to buy this soap for his restless legs syndrome and swore it would never work, but guess what, it does!! He is absolutely amazed that this works for him as he just couldn’t see how that could be but every time he used it his legs were much better. After being such a big skeptic, now he believes! It’s a great soap and you have to try it for yourself.”

Let us know if Leg Soap works 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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We have heard from many readers that soap chips in socks or pockets can help alleviate restless legs or even muscle cramping. But who wants to chop up a bar of soap into shards? We’ve done it for you.

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I used the soap remedy for awhile and it seemed to help. I also take a 400mg magnesium supplement at night and sometimes rub a magnesium lotion on my calves. The lotion might be useful for airline flights, as well as compression socks.

I have had success with a bar of soap under the sheet in bed for RLS, however I have had more and longer lasting effect by taking magnesium. For those that are not having success with the soap, give Magnesium a try. : )

Soap didn’t stop my restless leg at night but I did try taking a spoonful of mustard. I figured if the mustard would work for cramps in my legs, it might also work for the restless leg. It did! I have tried this several times and it worked every time. I haven’t needed it on a long trip yet but have some small packets of mustard in my purse just in case.

I have not found that the soap relieves my RLS but definitely cramping. Sometimes I wet a bar of soap and rub it directly on the cramping muscle. I keep a bit of bar soap in my purse just in case.

You can add me to the list of
people who have found the
soap to work. It doesn’t matter
what soap I use. It stopped my
cramps. I used to have RLS but
stopping my ADHD medicine
stopped that.

Low iron is the culprit in RLS.. use a USP approved supplement of Iron NatureMade 65 mg once a day works for me taken with or around dinner always works for me and my wife….may take a few days to build up in the system

I’ve started using coconut oil with lavender oil added to put on my legs.. it seems to help my restless legs and also helps dry skin.

Soap has stopped my leg cramps and now I found a new use. My hands cramp up sometimes. My fingers go in all directions. I figure if it works on legs why not hands. I hold a piece of soap in my hands while watching TV or reading the paper. It seems to work. I haven’t cramped up for quite a while. If it starts again I keep two small bars near by.

The best thing I have found that helps my leg cramps are Hyland’s Leg Cramps caplets. You feel relief very fast after taking 1 or 2. I have them on hand all the time.

“Our soap manufacturer came up with a way to create small chips of soap especially for socks”

Wow! That must have taken a lot of research! Did they put the soap in smaller molds?

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