a bar of soap with sprigs of lavender and a bottle of essential oils for restless legs syndrome

Can a Bar of Soap Really Help People With RLS?

If you have restless legs syndrome (RLS), you have probably been awake late at night searching the Internet for ways to relieve your symptoms. You might have searched for home remedies for RLS in the hopes that something you have on hand could help you get a good night’s sleep.

And then it happened. Your search results came back with: a bar of soap under your sheets? You may have been half asleep, but what you read is an actual remedy for RLS.

What is it about a bar of soap that may help some RLS symptoms? There is some interesting information to consider about this unusual remedy.

Magnesium: the hidden ingredient

Some people with RLS say a simple bar of soap placed under a fitted sheet helps with their symptoms.

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The relief may come from one common ingredient: magnesium. Many commercial bars of soap contain this mineral to help soothe the skin.

Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that is needed for overall metabolic function. Some research has shown that magnesium in food has declined over the years. Some studies have found that many people with chronic conditions have a magnesium deficit.1

One theory is that the magnesium in the soap is absorbed into the skin throughout the night. The magnesium may then help relax the muscles of the legs, improving some of the symptoms associated with RLS.2

Benefits of scent

The scent from a bar of soap is another reason why this remedy may help RLS symptoms. One study using a skin patch of soap-scented oil showed that the patch relieved muscular pain in some people.3 In the study, the scent of the oil was applied directly to the skin. While the study did not specifically focus on RLS, the results show why a bar of soap under the sheets may help relieve some symptoms of RLS.

Other studies have found that lavender oil may help manage some symptoms of neurological disorders. In these studies, lavender oil was applied on the skin, taken orally, or smelled by the person in the study. Different conditions were shown to benefit from lavender, including:4

  • Mild insomnia
  • Acute and chronic pain
  • Mild mood disorders

A bar of soap for RLS: myth or reality?

Like many common remedies, this one may hold some truth. Soap bars contain magnesium, which has shown to relax the muscles and soothe cramping that occurs with RLS. Soap also has a scent that may be helpful for improving sleep and pain.

However, this remedy is not proven. In other words, the soap may or may not help with RLS. Studies that have shown possible benefits have not shown dosing, administration, or placebo results. This is why this remedy is not considered evidence-based.4

Ask your doctor about this and other home remedies that may be helpful in managing your symptoms of RLS. What is helpful in one person may not be in others, but having the conversation may be the key to finding what works best for you.

Interested in reading more about lifestyle changes for symptom relief? Explore our featured collection on lifestyle changes and alternative treatments for RLS.

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