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CancerLynx - we prowl the net
July 1, 2002

Helpful Ideas for Veins During Cancer Treatment
Alexandra Andrews, Jeanne Oshima, Nina Steinberg, Carol Suveda, Linda Gustafson, Francine Berger, Merry Holley, Sharon Robbins, Red Keddy, Mary Foster, Pam Fisher, Clinical Herbalist, Jenny Swieciki, Clinical Herbalist, Beverly Burns, LAc, OMD and Glenda Strieter


During cancer treatment your veins are contantly being used for tests and blood draws. Here are some tips and ideas to help. My suggestions are to drink Nettle tea to strengthen your veins and ask for a butterfly needle if necessary.
Alexandra Andrews

I also have the problem of the onc nurse finding a suitable vein. What I finally came up with is to bring a heating pad and long electrical extension cord and arrive about 15 minutes early. I find a spot to plunk myself, plug in, warm my arm, wrist and hand and visualize my veins getting bigger and bigger. Anyway, it worked last month because the nurse got in 1-2-3 and we were on our way.
Francine Berger

Try Hawthorne berries or rubbing a topical cream such as Dr. Shirs Linament.
Beverly Burns, LAc OMD

There are a number of recommendation for veins. The first is eating foods high in bio-flavonoids. Foods that are orange, blue, yellow, purple and red colored are high in bio-flavonoids. Bio-flavonoids strengthen the tissue of the vessels and give more elasticity to them. I often recommend that people eat a rainbow of colored vegetables and fruits. Good herbs to take would be Hawthorn berries, Blueberries, Tumeric, Ginkgo.

For damaged veins, in addition to the above recommendation, I would consider herbs such as Yarrow- an astringent that tightens the vessel lining or small amounts of Horsechestnut. These herbs can be used both internally and externally to strength varicosities.
Pam Fisher, Clinical Herbalist

I have terrible veins, they disappear as soon as they are looked at. I have been taking Ginko Biloba and they have definitely improved. I get Aredia 3 weekly and sometimes it took 6 or 7 attempts now down to 1 or 2 which is great.
Mary Foster

Let them know ahead of time you have difficult veins. Don't carry a heavy purse or items on the arm where you just gave blood.
Linda Gustafson

I have what is called a bed buddy, which is a bag filled with rice, can be heated in microwave or put in freezer, whichever you need. On the mornings before IV infusion, I heat it up before I leave home, keep it on hand and arm, then re-heat when I reach cancer center. The nurses can always find a vein in hand now, before there was a lot of slapping and digging going on!! OUCH
Merry Holley

I had terrible problems at first with phlebitis from the pamidronate infusion, so this is now my routine:

  • Before an IV is inserted, the nurses always give me warm packs for both top and bottom of my hand, wrist, and lower arm. Then I keep using one over the vein all during the infusion.
  • At home I use a heating pad on the vein for the next 48 hours, 20 minutes on and 40 minutes off whenever I'm awake.? The nurses also have me drink lots of fluids for a couple of hours before the IV is started. This helps, too.
  • Some people feel that bromelain, from pineapple, which is usually sold as digestive enzyme, is useful as an anti-inflammatory for the vein. I don't know if this is true on not, but I have my onc's permission to use it, so I do.

I've now had many pamidronate treatments and have had no vein problems since we started doing it this way
Red Keddy

Drink lots of water the day before. Make sure you are well hydrated.
Jeanne Oshima

I make the bed buddies (I call them herbal cozies because they have herbs in them) but never thought to use it myself to make it easier to find that vein. The worst part of scans for me, other than the steroid reactions, is the tech trying to find a vein because they can't use your port for the contrast. It was murder last time. I know what to do next time, thanks to you!!!! I think I will make some and take them to the onc. office for them to use with patients who have veins that "hide" when the needle comes out.
Sharon Robbins

I have made some rice bags from fingertip towels folded the long way and then filled.
Glenda Strieter

Find one person who is successful drawing your blood. Try to go back to that person always.
Nina Steinberg

I have made some rice bags from fingertip towels folded the long way and then filled.
Glenda Strieter

If you have hard to find veins, ask them to use a butterfly needle.
Carol Suveda

Yarrow tea helps to strengthen veins use cautiously. Nettles and Oatstraw support the system and help viens.
Jenny Swieciki, Clinical Herbalist


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