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Soap in Hand Relieves Cramps

Q. I am prone to very painful hand and finger cramps. When they strike, I massage them or run hot and cold water over the hands, but nothing works except time.

Today my left hand was in terrible pain that wouldn’t cease. I went to the Internet and looked up Home Remedies for Hand Cramps. I saw the suggestion on your website about holding a bar of soap and immediately opened a new bar. When I held it in my aching hand, POOF — the pain went away within seconds. It seemed like a miracle.

A. The idea of holding a bar of soap to overcome hand cramps grew out of the practice of preventing nighttime leg cramps with a bar of soap under the bottom sheet. Another reader reports:

“We swear by the soap in the bed, and have had no problem with leg cramps in years. A few days ago the fingers in both hands cramped up. I thought of the soap, held it in my hands and the cramps went away like magic.”

We don’t know why this remedy seems to work, but many people have had success with it. Some scientists insist that it is the placebo effect. Regardless of the mechanism of action, holding a bar of soap seems like an inexpensive, low-risk solution to a painful problem.

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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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