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Want To Test Your Gut Microbiome Without Leaving Your Home? Here’s How

Author:

Amanda Lundberg, RN

June 28, 2024

Registered Nurse (RN)

By Amanda Lundberg, RN

Registered Nurse (RN)

Amanda is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in clinical nursing and a member of the Association of Healthcare Journalists.

Image by mbg creative

June 28, 2024

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Caring for your gut microbiome is essential for achieving and maintaining optimal health. According to Heather Wilde, a naturopathic doctor at NaturopathicMD, the gut microbiome significantly impacts everything from mood and weight management to the risk of chronic diseases.

Given the profound influence of our gut microbiome, it’s no wonder people are increasingly turning to at-home testing kits to understand and improve their digestive health.

Among the most popular and trusted names in this space are Viome and Thorne; both offer cutting-edge technology and personalized insights—but how do they stack up against each other?

Below, we thoroughly compare the two leading at-home microbiome tests to help you take control of your health journey.

Viome vs. Thorse: A comparison

What is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is the diverse community of microorganisms—including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microscopic creatures—that inhabits our gastrointestinal tract. These microbes play a critical role in our health and well-being, contributing to a variety of bodily functions.

Microbes assist in the digestion of food, particularly in breaking down complex carbohydrates and producing essential nutrients. The microbiome also plays a significant role in our immune system, regulating inflammation and protecting our bodies against harmful pathogens.

Are gut health tests legit?

Research shows that a healthy microbiome varies by person—and it’s as specialized as a fingerprint. Your gut’s microbiome regularly adjusts based on a variety of factors such as environment.

This means we don’t really have an understanding of what makes a “healthy microbiome.” While brands create their own thresholds of what’s “good and bad,” there is not a joint scientific standard.

No microbiome tests are currently FDA-approved. If you opt to take a microbiome test, you should consult with a holistic healthcare practitioner prior to making any drastic changes in diet or supplementation.

Abdominal discomfort (i.e. gas and bloating)No regularity (i.e. not going enough)Poor sleep (an unhealthy gut can impact your natural circadian rhythm)

Who should use a gut microbiome test?

What is Viome?

Viome is a pioneering health technology company that specializes in gut microbiome testing and analysis. The brand uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret data about the microorganisms in your digestive tract and provide insights into your health and well-being.

Users receive a kit, wherein they provide stool, blood, and saliva samples. These are then sent back to Viome’s lab for review. Leveraging advanced metatranscriptomic sequencing technology, Viome identifies all microbes (such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, and mold, in addition to human, bacterial, and microbial RNA) to give a deep dive into your microbiome.

After this sequencing and analysis process, users receive a detailed report on their microbiome composition, functionality, and how it may affect various aspects of their health. This report provides insights into the individual’s metabolic health, inflammation, digestive efficiency, and more, providing a holistic view of gut health.

Based on your results, Viome offers personalized nutrition recommendations to support optimal health. The purpose is to empower users to make informed decisions about their diet, lifestyle, and general health, thereby creating a customized path toward improved wellness.

What is Thorne?

Thorne is a prominent health solutions company with an array of at-home health tests and dietary supplements. Its tests are designed to evaluate various aspects of health and well-being, such as gut health, stress, and sleep. Each is conducted using an at-home kit with a blood, saliva, or urine sample. The sample is sent back to Thorne’s lab using a prepaid package.

Upon receipt, your sample will be analyzed by the brand’s specialists, using a combination of advanced technologies to ascertain biomarker levels, metabolic health, and other metrics according to the test.

Once the analysis is completed, users receive a comprehensive (yet easy-to-understand) digital report, which is viewable on Thorne’s platform. The report includes an overview of the user’s test results, a breakdown of what the data means and how it relates to their health. Depending on the type of test taken, these insights can include information such as vitamin deficiencies and hormonal imbalances, or indicators of chronic stress or poor sleep.

Based on each user’s results, Thorne provides personalized lifestyle, dietary, and supplement recommendations to address any areas of concern. Much like Viome, this is meant to empower individuals to take charge of their health and well-being.

Viome Gut Intelligence™ Test

Viome

Collection method

Stool sample

Result time

2 to 3 weeks

Coverage

Not covered by health insurance, you may use HSA or FSA account to purchase

Biomarkers checked

Bacteria, fungi, bacteriophages, viruses, parasites, archaea

See all specs

Pros & Cons

Ensures convenient and private sample collection

Uses advanced metatranscriptomic sequencing for a comprehensive analysis of gut microorganisms and their functionality

Cons

Services may be costly, with tests ranging up to $399, and they do not accept insurance

The accuracy and effectiveness of Viome’s personalized recommendations lack clinical validation in large-scale studies

Who should try it?

Viome at-home tests are an excellent choice for those who prioritize convenience, privacy, and personalized nutritional advice. However, those with acute symptoms or urgent health issues should prioritize immediate professional medical care.

Thorne

Thorne

Collection method

Blood, Saliva, Urine

Tests offered

Gut health, Stress, Sleep, Heavy metals, Thyroid, Hormone

Biomarkers checked

Gut Health: Intestinal Permeability Score, Gut Dysbiosis (including Good and Bad Bacteria and Probiotics), Digestion, Inflammation, Nervous System Imbalance, Beta-Diversity, Miconutrients (such as Niacin and B6), Short-Chain Fatty Acids, Immune Readiness, and Pathogens

Result time

3 to 5 days

See all specs

Pros & Cons

Tests tend to be more cost-effective, with prices ranging from $120 to $300, making it a more affordable choice for many individuals.

Provides a detailed digital report that not only explains the test results but also offers personalized dietary, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations.

Cons

Does not accept insurance for its testing services.

Depending on the specific test, Thorne may require blood, saliva, or urine samples. Some individuals might find certain types of sample collection to be more challenging or less convenient than others.

Who should try it?

Thorne at-home tests might be more suitable for individuals seeking a comprehensive range of health tests, like sleep and heart health checks. However, those with acute health problems should always seek immediate professional assistance.

Comparing the cost of Viome vs. Thorne

Rightfully so, financial considerations are often a significant factor when choosing a health testing service. Here’s a breakdown of the pricing structure for Viome vs. Thorne:

Viome’s test cost varies, ranging from $259 to $399 per test. On the other hand, Thorne’s test prices range from $89 to $249 per test, with a few comprehensive panels available for $390 to $830. At this time, neither company accepts insurance as a form of payment (though both brands are HSA/FSA-eligible).

When comparing these companies purely on a cost basis, Thorne tends to offer more budget-friendly options. This affordability may be particularly beneficial for those who require multiple tests.

Comparing the tests offered for Viome vs. Thorne

Viome and Thorne each have an array of at-home testing options, though the scope and specifics of the tests differ. Here’s a look at which tests both brands offer:

Gut Intelligence™ TestFull Body Intelligence™ TestOral Health Intelligence™ TestCancerDetect® Oral & Throat

Thorne

Thyroid TestStress TestVitamin D TestMenopause TestBiological Age Health PanelWeight Management TestGut Health Test with Microbiome WipeSleep TestEssential Health PanelAdvanced Health PanelFertility Test

Ultimately, Thorne offers a more diverse selection of tests. However, the two tests offered by Viome are extremely comprehensive and include multiple markers.

Comparing the sample collection methods for Viome vs. Thorne

The processes for performing tests with Viome and Thorne are somewhat similar, though the specific procedures can depend on the type of test being performed.

For Viome, the sample collection starts with the user receiving a test kit at home. This kit is used to collect stool, blood, and saliva samples following the provided instructions. Once the samples have been collected, you’ll just need to place them in the provided return shipping envelope and return it to Viome’s laboratory.

Similarly, Thorne’s testing process begins with the user receiving a home kit specific to the type of test ordered. Depending on the test, this could require a blood, saliva, or urine sample. The user collects the sample according to the provided instructions, then sends it back to Thorne’s lab using the prepaid shipping materials included in the kit.

In both cases, the user is expected to collect the sample at home on their own, following the instructions provided. The two companies make it easy to return the samples for analysis—and both aim to provide personalized health insights based on the results of their respective tests.

Comparing the turnaround times for Viome vs. Thorne

When it comes to health tests, you’ll likely want to go with a brand that provides quick results. Anticipating test results can create anxiety, making swift turnaround times a key feature of any testing service. Both Viome and Thorne strive to provide users with timely results.

With Viome, once the lab receives your sample, you can generally expect to get your results within a span of two to three weeks. The slightly longer duration is due to the intricate analysis involved, particularly with the Gut Intelligence and Health Intelligence Tests, which delve into the detailed workings of your microbiome and various health metrics.

However, as someone who has personally used this test, I can attest that the comprehensive insights warrant the wait and provide a unique opportunity to better understand and optimize your health.

Thorne offers a significantly quicker turnaround time than Viome. Once the lab receives your sample, results typically become available within a few days.

This swift turnaround is advantageous for those seeking a quick snapshot of their health or who might need to adjust their lifestyle or medical plan swiftly based on the results.

Full comparison: Viome vs. Thorne

ProductPriceTests offeredResults timeCoverageBiomarkers checkedViome$149 to $399Gut Intelligence Test; Health Intelligence Test2 to 3 weeksNot covered by insuranceBacteria; Fungi; Bacteriophages; Viruses; Parasites; ArchaeaThorne$120 to $300Stress Test; Sleep Test; Heavy Metals Test; Fertility Test; Gut Health Test; Heart Health Test; Food and Drink Sensitivity Test3 to 5 daysNot covered by insuranceGut Health Test: Intestinal Permeability Score; Gut Dysbiosis; Digestion; Inflammation; Nervous System Imbalance; Beta-Diversity; Miconutrients (such as Niacin and B6); Short-Chain Fatty Acids; Immune Readiness; Pathogens

FAQ

What is the best test to check gut health?

Due to the complex and still-emerging nature of microbiome science, there isn’t a single “best” test to analyze gut health. However, comprehensive stool analysis or gut microbiome tests like those offered by companies such as Viome or Thorne provide valuable insights into gut microbiota and its functionality. These tests’ results can help individuals understand and improve their gut health.

What tests are similar to Viome?

Our list of the best at-home microbiome tests offers more information about Viome and three similar tests. Ultimately, Thorne, Biohm, Flore, and Thryve are all similar to Viome.

Are gut microbiome tests worth it?

The value of gut microbiome tests largely depends on your individual health goals and needs. These tests provide valuable insights into your gut health, potentially aiding in dietary and lifestyle modifications for better well-being, but they should not replace professional medical advice or diagnosis.

The takeaway

While Viome and Thorne both offer valuable at-home testing services, each has its own advantages. Thorne offers a wider array of tests, while Viome provides a true deep dive on gut health, with personalized dietary advice based on your results.

Regardless of which you choose, taking control of your gut health is a significant step—and both services can be powerful tools in your wellness journey.

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