Aloe Vera Frequently Asked Questions

We get many questions about what to expect from aloe vera, how to use aloe vera and types of aloe vera. We do our best to answer all of your questions. If there is something that you would like to know more about, please contact us at 800-222-3901 or info@desertharvest.com

What to expect from aloe vera

Q: Will using aloe vera cure my condition?

A: Aloe vera is not a cure for any condition. There are more than 200 ingredients in the aloe vera plant, and much research has been conducted on them since the 1930s. Some of these ingredients have medically beneficial properties, especially on the skin. Read more about the Benefits of Aloe Vera.


Q: How does aloe vera work for IC symptom relief?

A: Desert Harvest is unique in that the high concentration of nutrients in our Super-Strength Aloe Vera preserves the glycosaminoglycans (GAG) which adhere to the bladder mucosal lining, preventing potentially irritating solutes in the urine from reaching the bladder wall. Desert Harvest Super-Strength Aloe Vera coats the bladder with a protective GAG layer naturally, without harsh chemicals or side affects. Learn more.

Q: Does aloe vera have D-Mannose and what are the benefits?

A: Mannose is found in many fruits, vegetables and herbs. An herbal source of mannose is the aloe vera plant. Aloe vera contains acemannan, which is a polysaccharide chain of mannose molecules. Other names for Mannose are: Carubinose, D-manosa, D-Mannose and Seminose. Preliminary clinical trials in Europe show that Mannose may also treat or prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Research suggests mannose stops certain bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls. Scientists think that the bacteria stick to the sugar instead. This helps the bacteria leave the body through your urine. Fewer bacteria in the bladder lowers your risk of a urinary tract infection. D-Mannose supplements are sold for bladder health. Since mannose is already found in Desert Harvest Super-Strength aloe vera capsules, there is no need to supplement additional D-Mannose to reap the benefits.

Q: How many of the Desert Harvest Super-Concentrated Aloe Vera Capsules should I take each day?

A: Based on our clinical trial and other studies, we recommend that you start with 6 capsules per day, three in the morning and three in the evening with an 8 ounce glass of liquid. Some people can eventually find a maintenance dose less than 6 capsules, and others might require as many as 12 capsules per day, but you won’t know until you experiment with your own individual dosing needs. IC patients should refer to our Recommended Dosage, which includes escalation protocols if a standard dose doesn’t work for you. It also provides recommendations for bringing flares under control and instructions for titrating doses to a maintenance level after finding your ideal dose.

Q: I’ve been taking Desert Harvest Aloe Vera Capsules for a while now and my IC symptoms are nearly gone, but every now and then I have a brief flare of my symptoms, usually associated with eating some acidic foods. Can I take more capsules to bring my symptoms back under control?

A: Absolutely! Many IC customers will take 3 to 6 capsules immediately when their symptoms flare and can experience relief within minutes to a few hours. You might have to maintain an escalated dose for a few days and then begin decreasing your dose by one capsule per day until you find a maintenance dose that keeps you symptom free most of the time. Learn more about dosage for flares and maintenance.

Q: What do you feel is aloe vera’s greatest contribution to good health and is it a panacea for all disease?

A: Probably the best way to answer this is to quote what Dr. Terry Pulse said, “If you can hold the progress of disease in check and if you can stimulate and enhance one’s own defense mechanism, which is your immune system, there are no diseases that your own body is not capable of conquering and aloe vera meets those principles.” No, we would not go so far as to say that it is a panacea, but aloe has been around for 4000 years and has obviously had great benefits to the body or it would not still be used today.”

Q: I am a diabetic. Can I take aloe?

A: Based on testimony and research, it would appear that you can. You should monitor your blood sugar level very closely, especially if you are taking insulin. Research using concentrated aloe vera in prediabetics and Type II diabetics has shown that blood sugar can be reduced up to 55%. Insulin doses were either reduced or totally eliminated when study subjects added aloe vera in sufficient quantities to their daily diet. The mechanism is thought to be related to aloe vera’s beta-cell protective effects, inhibitory effects on glucose-absortion speed, and a modulataion of liver enzymes. Read more about aloe and diabetes and talk to your healthcare provider before adding any supplements. 

Q: Are there side effects when taking concentrated aloe vera?

A: Concentrated aloe vera with the anthraquinones removed (like our Desert Harvest products) have no known negative side effects. If you are allergic to aloe vera (<1% of population), you may experience hives, trouble breathing, swelling of the mouth and/or tongue, profuse diarrhea, and/or vomiting. An easy way to test for an aloe allergy is to empty a small amount of aloe powder from a capsule, mix with water into a paste, and rub on the inside of the elbow. If you see a reaction within a couple of minutes, similar to hives, you most likely have an allergy.

Other possible reactions may be indigestion. It is not necessary to eat food for aloe to be effective, but food can help if you experience indigestion. It is also helpful to take Calcium Glycerophosphate to help with acid indigestion and always drink 8 oz. of clear fluid with the capsules.

Q: Why did I feel “crappy” during the first few weeks of taking your concentrated aloe vera capsules?

A: Approximately 2% of our database population of more than 50,000 customers, have recorded what is sometimes called a “die-off” reaction in the first few weeks of taking our concentrated aloe vera capsules. Sometimes called a Die-Off Reaction, Cleansing Reaction, Detox Reaction, or Herxheimer Reaction, a healing crisis often occurs when your body tries to eliminate toxins at a faster rate than they can be properly disposed of.

The Healing Crisis is often characterized by a temporary increase in symptoms during the cleansing or detox process which may be mild or severe. You may feel worse and therefore conclude that the food supplement is not working. But these reactions are instead signs that they are working and that your body is going through the process of cleaning itself of impurities, toxins, and imbalances.

Such reactions are temporary and can occur immediately or within several days, or even several weeks, of a detox. Symptoms usually pass within 1-3 days, but on rare occasions can last several weeks. If you are suffering from a major illness, the symptoms you experience during the healing crisis may be identical to the disease itself. Sometimes discomfort during the healing crisis is of greater intensity than when you were developing the chronic condition. This may explain why there may be a brief flare-up in one’s condition.

To help you feel better faster, continue to take the recommended dosage of Super -Strength Aloe Vera and drink plenty of clear liquid (especially water). This will help flush the toxins out of your system. On rare occasions, a reduction of the dosage or temporary cessation may be required until you feel better.

It is important to seek the advice of your healthcare provider if your symptoms don’t subside within 2 weeks as this would be an indication you may not be in a healing crisis but may have another medical condition.

Finding long-term relief with Super-Strength Aloe Vera can take time and patience. Stick with the dosage recommendations and 3 month protocol.

Learn more about the Healing Crisis

Q: Why didn’t aloe vera help my condition?

A: According to our study and survey, Desert Harvest Super-Strength Aloe Vera does not work for 12.5% of IC customers. Saying that, not all aloe is created equal so it may depend on what brand of aloe vera you are taking (dosage, quality, concentration, etc…). If the brand contains too small a quantity of aloe and its active ingredients, there could be little to no benefit. You must also be vigilant with taking Desert Harvest consistently, spread out dosage during the day (3 in the a.m. and 3 in the p.m.), and give the process at least 3 months. Desert Harvest is the only aloe studied for IC specifically and thousands have experienced significant relief following the dosage protocol. Learn more about why choose Desert Harvest Aloe Vera vs. juice or other brands.

How to use aloe vera

Q: Can I take aloe along with other vitamins, medicines, and supplements? Does it make a difference if I take your aloe vera with or without food?

A: We always recommend that you seek the advice of your healthcare provider or pharmacist for specific medication interaction questions. Because aloe vera helps with absorption, many people report that their other products work better when taken with aloe. You may take aloe vera either with or without food and it won’t affect concentration or absorption, you may actually increase the blood levels of certain nutrients if you take aloe vera with food. Research by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) has linked aloe vera to the bioavailability of vitamins C and E. According to the research, aloe vera increases levels of vitamins C and E in the bloodstream by more than 200% when consumed while taking both vitamins. In addition, levels of these vitamins remained elevated for 48 hours, providing a natural time-release effect. The study also concluded that aloe vera can enhance the bio-availability of both water- and fat-soluble vitamins.

Q: How much aloe should I take?

A: First, you must know the polysaccharide count in the brand you are taking. Then you should take an amount that is equal to the need. Most people who are in perfect health tell us they use 400 to 1200 mg (milligrams) of polysaccharides per day (that is 2 to 6 capsules per day of the Desert Harvest Super-Strength Aloe Vera). Those people with serious problems take 1200 to 4200 milligrams daily (6 to 18 capsules per day). You don’t fight a forest fire with a garden hose. It is better to take more than less, especially when you are seeking symptom relief.  There are no documented cases of negative reactions from taking too much aloe. You can always titrate your dose down once you start noticing changes. Learn more about Recommended Dosage for IC/PBS specifically and how to find your maintenance dose. 

Q: Can I take concentrated aloe vera while I am pregnant or nursing?

A: Because our aloe vera concentrates haven’t been studied specifically in pregnant women, the FDA doesn’t allow us to recommend them during pregnancy. Please seek the advice of your healthcare provider before taking any supplements during pregnancy.

Q: My bottle of Desert Harvest Aloe Vera Capsules has expired. Are they still okay to take?

A: Yes, they are perfectly safe to take if they have been kept at room temperature or below without being exposed to excessive heat andor/ humidity for long periods of time. Our shelf-life tests indicate that all of our Desert Harvest food supplements containing our super-concentrated aloe vera are still bio-active five years from the manufacturing date. Do not expose them to excessive heat, moisture or humidity and do not store in the refrigerator or freezer. 

Types of aloe vera products

How to distinguish between good and bad aloe vera products

Q: Which is better, concentrate or regular 1X aloe?

A: If you have a quality brand of aloe vera in the bottle, a 1X (single strength) is as good as a 15X (fifteen times stronger than 1X). The difference is that you need to take 15 times more of the 1X to achieve the same amount of the potentially beneficial active ingredients. One ounce of 15X is equal to 15 ounces of 1X. Cold processed concentrates had percentages of the water removed via a single-stage evaporator, resulting in less bulk, making it easier to store and more convenient for travel. Aloe is not known for its good taste, but you can mask the taste to suit your own taste buds by adding the concentrate to your favorite beverage. Concentrate costs less to ship because 1 bottle of 15X would equal 15 1X bottles. Desert Harvest Super-Strength Freeze-Dried Aloe Vera Capsules are even better because 100% of the water and fiber have been removed. Because they are cold processed, all of the ingredients are bioactive, just like the liquid forms of aloe vera.

Learn more about why choose Desert Harvest Aloe Vera vs. juice or other brands.

Q: Are all aloe vera concentrates the same?

A: No. Many concentrates have had heat applied as part of their process which caramelizes the sugars and also breaks down the large chains which are essential to maximizing the nutritional benefits. Many also have high levels of anthraquinones which are carcinogenic and cause diarrhea. Many companies claim their aloe is good for digestive health and weight loss which is directly attributed to the carcinogenic anthraquinones. Other aloe products tested reveal very little of the active aloe ingredients in their products at all, and some have been sued for misleading consumers. In other words, labels are very misleading and the amount of concentrate stated is often grossly inaccurate. The best advice we have is to read unbiased customer testimonials and seek consumer reports including BBB and other reliable sources before buying any aloe products.

Q: Can IC patients take liquid aloe vera concentrates?

A: People with interstitial cystitis (IC/BPS) should not drink liquid aloe vera because they are usually preserved with citric acid or other additives to lower the pH. This can cause IC/PBS symptoms to flare. Also, based on recommended dosage for IC, you would need to drink gallons of aloe juice / liquid to get enough beneficial nutrients to relieve IC symptoms. Since IC is often associated with urgency and frequency symptoms, adding excessive liquid to one’s diet is unnecessary.

Q: Why does the color and taste of aloe vera vary so greatly?

A: That is a good, observant question and one of the most frequently asked. If you harvest the aloe leaves after a long, dry period (no rain), it will reflect both a darker color and a much stronger taste. It also varies from season to season (summer vs. winter) therefore, variations in color, taste, and smell are very normal and should be expected.

Q: Can I beneficially take aloe directly from the aloe vera plant?

A: Of course, but there are some things you need to be aware of. Both the inner and the outer skin have many of the important nutrients, and just under the skin is a yellowish sap filled with anthraquinones which are laxatives. Anthraquinones should be avoided as they are known carcinogens and may cause diarrhea. If you use aloe vera directly from the plant, you should only use the center part of the leaf, the clear gel. Even though Desert Harvest believes in the synergy of the whole plant, it is nearly impossible for home users to remove the anthraquinones and insoluble fiber, so we recommend just slicing out the clear gel. Desert Harvest uses a patented freeze dry process to remove the water, insoluble fiber and anthraquinones and uses the gel and inner leaf without the anthraquinones.

Also note that the aloe plant loses most of its active, beneficial ingredients during its flowering period and should not be used at that time. Make certain that the aloe is freshly cut and used immediately because without processing and preservatives, aloe loses important properties within the first six hours after harvest. The natural enzymes begin to “eat” the active ingredients, which are long-chain sugars. Do not waste your money on pre-cut aloe leaves from the grocery store. There is no longer any beneficial nutrients in those leaves.

Finally, make certain that you really have an aloe vera plant. Some plants are very similar but have few, if any, beneficial properties. There are over 200 species of aloe vera. You should use the Barbadensis Miller plant.

It is often easier and more affordable to purchase high quality processed aloe vera (capsules and skin care) than to risk consuming anthraquinones or wasting money on no ingredients in pre-cut leaves.

Q: Can I raise my own aloe vera?

A: You should be able to. However, if you live in a cold climate where it freezes in the winter, the plant should be grown indoors. It is hardy and takes very little care. Don’t overwater it. Give it some occasional natural plant food and lots of sun. Having said that, please read the previous question and its answer.

Q: What effect does using heat have when processing aloe vera?

A: Heat caramelizes the sugars and also breaks down the large chains which are essential to maximizing the nutritional benefits.

Q: How can I tell if a topical lotion or ointment has enough aloe vera in it to be of any benefit?

A: Read the label carefully. The ingredients should be listed either in percentage of volume or from highest concentration as the first ingredient. In most lotions and ointments, aloe is listed last or very near the end of ingredients and water is often first. This tells you that the product has very little aloe in it, that the moisture in the product is water and not from aloe, and that overall, there is little to no nutrient value in the bottle. Aloe should be listed as the first ingredient on the label and water should not be an ingredient whatsoever as all moisture should come from the aloe plant. Also avoid aloe products that contain parabens, artificial ingredients, colors and/or perfumes. Bottles aloe should not be clear. Buy from a reputable brand who is transparent about their ingredients and process. Read customer reviews and testimonials.

Q: One supplier indicates that only their aloe product contains acemannan. Is this true?

A: All aloe vera has acemannan in it. Acemannan is a mucopolysaccharide in aloe vera leaves (long-chain polysaccharides). The U.S. Adopted Names Council assigned the generic name Acemannan to a long-chain sugar linked, acetylated polymannose found in aloe vera and first identified by Dr. Bill McAnalley.

Q: How can I determine what is a good brand of aloe vera to purchase?

A: One of the best ways to judge the legitimacy of a brand and their products is their customer testimonials. Amazon is a great place for unbiased opinion and product reviews. Another way is to read the labels very carefully for ingredients (what the product says it has and doesn’t have). In addition, there are two ways to scientifically test aloe. Ask the brand to supply you with their independent laboratory results or MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets). The other way is to perform the testing yourself. It is possible to buy inexpensive test kits, but beware, some fraudulent companies are becoming more sophisticated and are adding cheap ingredients which are of no medical value but which fool the simple tests. The more complex tests which can detect these additions as well as determine the presence and quantities of aloe are expensive, usually running between $700 and $1,000 per test.

Q: Which Desert Harvest Aloe Vera Skin Care product should I use for vulvovaginal symptoms and conditions?

A: Please reference this easy chart for the best Desert Harvest Vulvovaginal Solution that is right for you.

Aloe vera and the FDA

Q: Is aloe vera a drug?

A: No. It is no more a drug than carrots or potatoes or peaches. Aloe vera is a natural food. Learn about the natural benefits of aloe vera.

Q: Why doesn’t the government approve the use of aloe vera as a drug?

A: They would, but to get registered as a drug would take several years and costs would be between $100 to $150 million. When registration is granted, the research company that spent all the money would not have any proprietary interest since aloe vera is protected from patent.

Q: Why doesn’t the FDA stop those in the aloe vera industry who are misrepresenting their product?

A: If you take a 10,000 gallon vat and put one gallon of aloe vera juice in it and then add 9,999 gallons of water, you can advertise that it contains 100 percent pure stabilized aloe vera. That has been the position of FDA to date. One FDA representative said, “It’s not our responsibility to say how much water is in a tomato, an orange, or in aloe vera.” This position, of course, allows the unscrupulous to dilute the aloe as much as they want. There is no labeling requirement to list how much water and how much aloe is in a beverage.

Q: I am really upset about the frauds in the aloe vera industry. What can I do?

A: There are several things you can do. First, refuse to buy aloe vera products that haven’t been tested by an independent laboratory for sufficient aloe content. Insist that the producer of the product furnish you with a copy of the independent testing results. If they won’t supply the results, don’t buy it. Second, educate your local health food stores and request that they carry only the best, tested aloe vera products. And third, inform your friends and associates about the problem in the industry and tell them how they can determine what products are good.