Irish Spring soap for Restless Leg Syndrome? Whaaaa? My friend and wise woman, Valerie Lis, sent me that tip and I had to laugh. But, I also had to try it.
It’s quirky! I like quirky! My RLS is reasonably managed by taking Padma, a Tibetan herbal supplement, but how could I pass up putting Irish Spring soap at the foot of our bed? At the very least it would give my husband one more reason to question my sanity. (Not that I’m running low on those.)
Well, I have to say it does seem to work. When the tingling starts I put my foot, or feet, near the soap and it seems to quiet the prickly-tickly sensations. Bonus! The sheets smell like I’m taking a shower in Ireland! Do you remember the jingle for Irish Spring soap? With a bar of Irish Spring in my hand, it’s like taking a shower in Ireland, or something like that. Funny how commercial lyrics stick after a bajillion years.
Because nobody seems to truly know what causes RLS, and since traditional medicine suggests treatments laden with questionable side effects, I think a bar of soap is well worth trying.
For example, here are some traditional medical treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome (taken from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/index.htm):
Dopaminergic agents (drugs that increase dopamine), largely used to treat Parkinson’s disease, have been shown to reduce symptoms of RLS and PLMS when they are taken at bedtime and are considered the initial treatment of choice.
However, and this is a big HOWEVER, although dopamine-related medications are effective in managing RLS, long-term use can lead to worsening of the symptoms in many individuals. This apparent progressive worsening is referred to as â€œaugmentation.â€ With chronic use, a person may begin to experience symptoms earlier in the evening, then in the afternoon, until finally, the symptoms are present around the clock.
The FDA has approved gabapentin enacarbil, which metabolizes in the body to become gabapentin, for the treatment of moderate to severe RLS. No mention is made of side effects. Yet.
Benzodiazepines can help individuals who have mild or intermittent symptoms obtain a more restful sleep. However, even if taken only at bedtime they can sometimes cause daytime sleepiness.
Opioids such as codeine, propoxyphene, or oxycodone may be prescribed at night to diminish pain and help to relax individuals with more severe symptoms. Side effects include dizziness, nausea, exacerbation of sleep apnea, and the risk of addiction.
Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin and pregabalin can decrease the sensory disturbances such as creeping and crawling sensations and nerve pain. Dizziness, fatigue, and sleepiness are among the possible side effects.
I, for one, would rather try other approaches. Here is a list of natural treatments taken from HealthFreedoms.com that Valerie sent me:
- Put a Bar of Soap under the Bedsheets (SEE!)
I warned you that some of these were, um, nontraditional. Many people say that putting a bar of soap under their bottom sheet helps stave off RLS, not to mention leg cramps. There’s no scientific evidence to back this up, but it certainly can’t hurt to try.
- Avoid Triggers
Don’t sit in one position for too long. Get moderate exercise, but be warned: heavy exercise has been shown to cause RLS symptoms. Avoid caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, which are all reported RLS triggers.
- Stick to a Strict Nighttime Schedule
Since RLS disrupts the sleep cycle, it’s important to go to bed at the same time every night and to wind down before hitting the sheets. Remove digital clocks, electronics that glow, and anything work-related from the bedroom. The bedroom should be for sleep and intimacy only.
- Try Taking Supplements.
Some evidence suggests that RLS may be caused by an iron deficiency or a magnesium deficiency, so taking a supplement for both may be useful. (Talk to your doctor about a simple blood test to determine if your levels are low.) Greenhealthspot.com had this statement concerning calcium/Magnesium supplements and RLS:
Cal/Mg supplements. A calcium and magnesium supplement can work well together, usually twice the calcium to the magnesium. Make sure you take an absorbable form like citrate, aspartate or glycinate. You will know in a few days if this is the solution. Don’t take calcium alone, always couple with magnesium as we discussed previously about heart attacks and calcium supplementation.
If you do have questions and/or concerns about calcium intake here’s a link to a post by Helen Sanders at healthambition.com:
Folic acid and vitamin B can also help. It’s important to talk to your doctor first because taking too many of these vitamins and minerals could damage your health (especially if they are in synthetic form, as most are). 
We’re not sure why this works, but at least it’s a fun treatment. It could be the dopamine that’s released during intimacy or the relaxation that follows a physical encounter. 
- Get Warm
Switching from hot to cold or from cold to hot may help RLS symptoms. If your legs are cold, put on a pair of warm pants, or try using a heating pad. If your legs are warm, drape a cool towel over them or dip your feet in cool water.
 Everyday Health