Awareness about optimizing gut health has become more mainstream over the past few years, leading to a rise in at-home test kits for analyzing your gut microbiome.
One of the more well-known companies creating these tests is Viome, which offers at-home tests for gut health and other health markers.
While many people are curious about their gut health — particularly as research emerges about gut health’s connections to the immune system, mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions — science does not yet support the use of at-home gut microbiome tests.
Commonly, a gastroenterologist will diagnose gut health issues and may order tests or procedures to determine the cause of symptoms. However, many people see at-home testing as a convenient way to get more information about their health without working with a doctor.
This article discusses the science behind at-home microbiome testing and explains why Healthline does not recommend Viome’s tests or supplements.
While Viome is quickly becoming known for its gut health testing, the company failed Healthline’s rigorous vetting process and is not a company we would recommend, for a number of reasons.
Further, while the company’s lab in Bothell, Washington, is third-party certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, third-party validation for Viome’s supplement products is not publicly available to confirm purity and potency.
Another potential safety concern is the lack of transparency around the ingredients in the supplements.
While customers can access dosage information for active ingredients in their personalized formulas using the company’s app, a full list of inactive ingredients is not publicly available.
Without this information, people with food allergies or intolerances cannot assess whether Viome products are safe for them to take.
Finally, Viome states that it offers consults from clinicians as part of its CancerDetect test, but the company does not provide further information regarding who the clinicians are or their qualifications.
Throughout this article, we discuss the scope of gut microbiome tests and Viome and explain why we do not recommend the brand.
Your gut microbiome includes the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes that live in your intestines. These microorganisms are essential for moderating digestion, the central nervous system, and the immune system (
A gut microbiome test can determine the composition of different types of microbes within your gut. These tests are performed by analyzing stool samples.
Typically, a gut microbiome test detects the types of microbes in your gut and any signs of inflammation, yeast overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, or parasites. It also identifies markers for common issues, such as calprotectin, which is associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (
Several available types of gut microbiome test kits claim that they can help people understand their gut flora. Some tests detect bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other organisms, while others focus on just fungi and bacteria or just bacteria.
These tests require an at-home fecal sample that you mail back to the test provider. Some tests also offer a companion blood or saliva test to provide further insight.
A note on gut microbiome testing
When discussing gut microbiome tests, it is important to note that gut health is very much an emerging science and that researchers do not yet have a clear definition of what a “normal” microbiome looks like (
Therefore, science is still a long way from being able to provide consumers with reliable health interventions based on the results of an at-home test (
Viome is a company that offers at-home microbiome testing kits for people who want to learn more about their gut health. Your gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms living in your intestines — some of which are harmful to health and some of which are beneficial.
Using a platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Viome collects blood, stool, and saliva samples from users to analyze their microbiome (gut bacteria) and human gene expression (proteins that dictate cell function).
The company then provides diet and lifestyle recommendations to help improve gut conditions and overall health. In some cases, the company suggests that users take its branded supplement blends.
With the increasing popularity of probiotics and the consumption of more whole foods, interest in balancing one’s gut microbiome has been on the rise. However, science does not currently support the claims Viome makes about what its tests can do.
1. Order your kit
To get started with Viome, you can purchase one of its three testing options or two subscription plans:
- Gut Intelligence Test
- Health Intelligence Test
- Full Body Intelligence Test
- Precision Supplements & Probiotics + Prebiotics subscription with Fully Body Intelligence Test
- Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics subscription with Gut Intelligence Test
The company also offers a CancerDetect test for oral and throat cancers.
You’ll receive your test kit in the mail. Shipping is free.
2. Collect your sample and mail it in
You collect your sample (blood, stool, and/or saliva, depending on your testing kit) and send it back using the prepaid mailer Viome provides.
3. Get your results
Once Viome receives your sample, the lab will process it and give you your results within 2–3 weeks, though some customers complain about longer wait times. You can review your results through your account on the Viome site and the accompanying app.
Because Viome customers do not review their results in the presence of a healthcare professional, the results may cause some people to make changes to their wellness routine that are unnecessary or overly restrictive. This could lead to a reduction in diet quality and to nutritional deficiencies over time.
Additionally, as Healthline medical expert Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, points out, because the gut microbiota may change during the waiting period — as a result of changes in diet, medication, or supplement use — the results may no longer be relevant by the time the customer receives them.
If you sign up for the subscription kit with supplements, you’ll receive monthly shipments of Viome supplements based on your results. You can pause or resume your subscription by logging into your account on the website or app. To cancel, you need to call the company.
Viome offers three types of testing, which range in price from $249 to $399.
The company typically offers promotions for $20–30 off — available to those who use coupon codes or sign up for Viome’s mailing list — and often discounts its two less intensive tests.
The company also offers two supplement subscription plans that range from $69.95 to $179 per month.
Shipping is always free.
Types of tests available
Viome currently offers three tests and two subscription plans:
Gut Intelligence Test
- Test price: $249
The Gut Intelligence Test is Viome’s base gut health test, focusing solely on the gut microbiome and digestive health.
It analyzes a stool sample to compute an overall “Integrative Functional Health score” and more than 20 subscores for markers such as gas production, inflammatory activity, and digestive efficiency.
Based on these scores, you’ll receive food and supplement recommendations for the next 4–6 months to help you optimize digestion, food absorption, and gut flora diversity.
Health Intelligence Test
- Test price: $329
This test combines the stool sample testing of the Gut Intelligence Test with DNA blood testing.
It delivers an Integrative Functional Health score after analyzing both your gut microbiome and the gene expression of your microbes, your mitochondria, and your human cells. With this test, you receive more than 30 subscores, including mitochondrial health and biological age.
Full Body Intelligence Test
- Test price: $399
The Full Body Intelligence Test combines stool sample testing and blood testing with a saliva test to provide eight Integrative Health scores — including biological age, gut health, immune system health, oral health, and brain and cognitive health — and more than 50 subscores to help optimize overall health and show how you’re aging internally.
Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics with Gut Intelligence Test subscription
- Subscription cost: $69.95/month
This subscription plan includes a one-time Gut Intelligence Test along with monthly deliveries of a custom probiotic and prebiotic blend.
The blend is based on the results of your Gut Intelligence Test and includes 8–16 probiotic strains, depending on your gut-health needs.
Precision Supplements & Probiotics + Prebiotics with Full Body Intelligence Test subscription
- Subscription cost with Precision Supplements only: $130/month
- Subscription cost with Probiotics + Prebiotics blend: $179/month
This subscription plan includes a one-time Full Body Intelligence Test along with a monthly supply of supplements.
Precision Supplements are customized based on your test results and include a combination of minerals, vitamins, herbs, enzymes, amino acids, and food extracts.
For an additional cost, you can also receive monthly shipments of Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics.
Viome tests analyze your samples to determine various markers of health, including:
- biological age (based on cell function and DNA damage)
- energy levels
- gut microbiome health
- stress response
- cellular health
- immune system health
Viome maintains that its tests can help people improve digestion, increase their energy levels, lose weight, improve the efficiency of their metabolism, and sleep better.
While these claims sound really promising, they may not be grounded in science.
As Kubala explains, a 2019 review shows that both healthcare professionals and microbiome experts remain dubious about the usefulness of direct-to-consumer tests, as a result of a lack of concrete evidence linking particular microbes to various diseases and the lack of regulation of direct-to-consumer microbiome testing (
Your results will show what microbes were found in your gut microbiome and will include numerical scores in categories such as metabolic fitness and digestive efficiency. You will also receive diet and lifestyle recommendations based on your score and your sample analysis.
Additionally, the test results will include a personalized list of foods you should avoid and foods you should eat. These conclusions are based on an analysis of the bacteria, fungi, mold, and other microbes found in your gut.
The foods to avoid may be based on whether your microbiome can properly process those foods or whether you’re unable to absorb their nutrients. However, these suggested food restrictions may not be compatible with your overall nutritional needs.
Furthermore, the results of Viome’s analysis may not give a complete picture of your overall health and are not based on clinically proven methodologies. The results are based primarily on gene and microbiome analysis, and the microbiome is only one part of a very complex digestive system.
Therefore, to avoid unnecessary restrictions and potential nutrient deficiencies, consumers should talk with a doctor or a registered dietitian before eliminating potentially nutritious foods from their diet.
Probiotics and more
When it comes to Viome specifically, Kubala also raises concerns about the company’s emphasis on taking probiotics — which the company also sells.
To ensure safety and necessity, it is important to consult a trusted healthcare professional before taking probiotic supplements.
On the Viome website, user reviews are highly positive, with customers mentioning that they have lost weight and started to sleep better.
Viome is an Accredited Business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has a BBB rating of “A.” However, as a result of negative customer reviews, it has a score of 1.34 out of 5 stars.
One of the more recent 1-star reviews says that the recommendations Viome provided after testing did not cite the information the recommendations were based on (blood test results, for instance).
The customer writes: “The recommendations are made solely to sell their supplements without giving any basis of fact upon which they can be trusted.”
Another recent review says a customer ordered a test kit in April 2022 but still had not received it 3 months later. Other negative reviews focus on poor customer service and delays in receiving tests and test results.
In addition to these overwhelmingly negative reviews, the BBB has resolved 52 complaints against Viome within the last 3 years — 20 of those in just the 12 months prior to the publication of this article.
Aside from reviews, there is also a lack of transparency regarding third-party testing of the company’s supplements and pre- and probiotics, according to Kubala.
While the Viome website states that “every ingredient chosen must meet a strict set of testing from both in-house labs as [well as] third-party labs which include organoleptic review, and identification, purity, and microbiological testing,” Kubala notes that the company does not actually list the third-party labs it uses or provide publicly available certificates of analysis.
If you’re concerned about your gut health or think you may have a food sensitivity, the best course of action is to make an appointment with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a primary care doctor.
They will be able to refer you to a gastroenterologist — a digestive health specialist — if necessary.
They may also recommend testing for conditions such as IBD or celiac disease or refer you to a registered dietitian.
While you’re waiting for your appointment, it can be helpful to keep a log of the foods you eat and any symptoms you experience.
A food symptom journal serves as a great starting point because it can help a healthcare professional identify trends in your diet that may be contributing to your symptoms.
Is Viome FDA-approved?
Home microbiome tests, including those listed on Viome’s website, are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The company has received FDA approval for its mRNA technology and AI platform for detecting oral and throat cancers.
However, Healthline does not recommend CancerDetect at this time. While the test includes a consultation with a clinician, Viome does not disclose who that clinician may be or what their qualifications are.
What can a microbiome test tell you?
A gut microbiome test can detect bacteria, mold, fungi, yeast, and other microbes present in your stool.
When should I see a doctor?
You should reach out for medical assistance if you have any pain or notice any sudden changes in your body.
It is also worth consulting a doctor if you have any concerns about changes in your bowel habits or are regularly experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, excessive flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation.
Do at-home test kits expire?
Viome’s test kits expire 6 months after their purchase date, according to the company’s website. Be sure to check expiration dates and best-use practices.
If you still want to try it out
Before using any gut health test, talk with a healthcare professional about any health concerns you have. If you decide to purchase a test through Viome, follow all the instructions for sample collection to make sure your sample fits the requirements.
Additionally, discuss any potential dietary changes with a healthcare professional to ensure that your diet will still be nutritionally adequate.
If you’re considering a subscription that offers Viome supplements, consult a healthcare professional before adding any new vitamins to your diet.
A healthy gut microbiome is an important part of your overall well-being.
While at-home tests like those Viome offers may sound like a convenient way to analyze your gut or general health, there simply is not enough research to support the usefulness of these tests.
Instead, you can consult a doctor or registered dietitian about any concerns you have about your gut health. They can help you come up with a plan that’s tailored to you and your body’s specific needs.