In This Article
In This Article
The beneficial and harmful bacteria within your gut, also known as the gut microbiome, influence many digestive functions, such as digestion and absorption.
However, it doesn’t just stop there. Your gut is essential in maintaining your overall health—from your mental health to immunity.
This is why when you’re experiencing either digestive or even non-digestive symptoms, it's smart to consider that gut health may be the root cause.
Comprehensive stool tests offer a closer and more detailed look into your gut microbiome and overall digestive function.
However, it’s worth noting that not all stool tests are created equal, so we picked the top five that best provide essential and clinical insights into your gut health.
KnowYourDNA is committed to making healthcare more accessible to the public, so we feature products that meet industry standards.
We only choose at-home kits with reliable testing methods and science-backed reports to improve your health.
Our in-house medical experts help ensure the accuracy of the information we give our readers by reviewing it before publication.
Know Your DNA Reviews
Our review of the best at-home Microbiome Tests.
Here are our top picks for the best comprehensive stool-testing brands.
You can only obtain some of these kits through a licensed practitioner. But you can also purchase some of these tests directly from the company’s website.
|Best Comprehensive Stool Test||Purchase through a licensed practitioner||Microbiome technology used||Tests for yeast||Tests for parasites||Includes clinical markers|
|GI Effects||No||- PCR|
|Thorne Gut Health Test||No||Metagenomics||Yes||Yes||No|
|BIOHM Gut Test||No||rRNA sequencing||Yes||No||No|
|GI 360||Yes||- PCR|
The GI Effects Comprehensive Profile offers the most in-depth analysis (out of all our picks) of your overall gut health. It thoroughly examines parasites and bacterial balance using its three-method combination testing: PCR (polymerase chain reaction test), microscopy, and culture.
This makes it an excellent choice for first-time stool testing. The clinical markers included in the GI Effects cover the critical functions of digestive health.
Clinical markers (or sometimes biomarkers) are quantifiable indicators used to monitor, predict, or diagnose a health condition.
Here are the clinical markers included with GI Effects Comprehensive Profile:
What made GI Effects stand out to us is that it includes the analysis of these gut microorganisms:
These bacteria are significant members of the gut microbiome of gut microbiota. They are beneficial to maintaining your gut health. However, too much of either may cause digestive symptoms, such as bloating, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.
Measuring these gut bacteria is helpful for people experiencing digestive symptoms. GI Effects is one of the few stool tests that include them in their analysis.
If your healthcare provider is licensed, they can order this for you via Geneva Connect.
|GI Effects Comprehensive Profile|
|Cost||$360 + $15 physician fee|
|Results turnaround time||Two weeks or more|
Thorne Gut Health Test offers the most comprehensive analysis of the gut microbiome and overall gut health among the direct-to-consumer stool tests.
Thorne uses metagenomic sequencing to deliver a detailed analysis of your gut microbiome. Metagenomics is used to identify the DNA of every microorganism detected in your stool sample.3
This test assesses your gut’s bacterial balance and can screen for stealth infections. It offers valuable insights into your gut’s health, reporting the following:
One of the potential downsides of the Thorne Gut Health Test is that it doesn’t include clinical markers. However, it does provide personalized diet and supplement recommendations.
Another potential drawback is that stool tests that use DNA testing can’t be used to diagnose medical conditions.
With that said, your doctor may recommend a different type of test if you’re at risk for gut-related conditions like colon cancer and others.
Thorne claimed it has significantly improved its consumer summary reports and raw data, available as a downloadable Excel file.
|Thorne Gut Health Test|
|Sample collection||Microbiome wipe|
|Results turnaround time||Four to eight weeks|
BIOHM Gut Test uses DNA testing to identify the bacteria and fungi comprising your gut microbiome. It also measures these pathogens and compares the result to the typical amounts.
BIOHM’s report has three parts:
The BIOHM Gut Test is an affordable option with a greater scope since it includes testing for fungi.
It’s a good choice if you’re generally interested in gut bacteria and fungi. However, it may not be the best choice if you’d like to receive clinically actionable information, like clinical markers, about your gut health.
Despite that, you’ll receive helpful recommendations for enhancing your digestive health based on the kinds of microbes detected by the BIOHM Gut Test.
For instance, they offer personalized probiotic supplements that can address the gut issues your test reveals. BIOHM provides a wide range of probiotics and other nutritional supplements.
|BIOHM Gut Test|
|Sample collection||Microbiome wipe|
|Results turnaround time||Four to six weeks|
The Gut Zoomer analyzes the bacteria, yeasts, viruses, and parasites that make your gut microbiome. It also has essential biomarkers for gut health and inflammation.
The company uses DNA microarray technology. However, the exact details of their testing method are proprietary.
DNA microarray is a tried and tested method for identifying microorganisms like stool bacteria.4
Your report will include the following assessments:
What sets Gut Zoomer apart from other brands are these three inflammatory markers:
The Gut Zoomer is for you if you’re seeking an in-depth assessment of your gut microbiome and don’t mind its proprietary methods for microbiome testing.
|Gut Zoomer by Vibrant Wellness|
|Cost||$200 to $400, depending on your physician|
|Results turnaround time||Two to three weeks|
The GI 360 by Doctor’s Data uses the same microbiome testing technology as GI Effects.
However, it has additional exclusive analyses, such as the Dysbiosis Index and Microbiome Abundance and Diversity Summary.
Like the other brands, GI 360 evaluates the abundance and diversity of your gut microbes. It also detects the presence of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
What gives it an edge are its distinctive clinical markers, including:
Both Lactoferrin and Lysozyme are excellent parameters to check for inflammatory activities in the gut. Their abnormal presence in the stool can indicate inflammation.8
Lactoferrin is a protein that helps fight viruses and bacteria. On the other hand, Lysozyme is a naturally occurring enzyme.
GI 360 is an easy-to-use CST choice because of its straightforward explanations for the markers and summary interpretations.
|GI 360 by Doctor’s Data|
|Cost||$300 to $500, depending on your physician|
|Results turnaround time||Up to two weeks|
Our team, with the help of our in-house health expert Dr. Rizza Mira, did thorough research to develop a set of criteria.
Here’s what we looked for when choosing the best brands.
We picked brands that identify more biomarkers than other tests and cover more gut function categories, such as bacterial balance, digestion, absorption, or inflammation.
We chose tests with high accuracy rates by going through the science behind their testing methods and technology.
You should get your money’s worth through the insights included in the report and the number of markers or areas the test covers.
We also considered the turnaround time for companies to process the stool samples.
A comprehensive stool test (CST) is a convenient and non-invasive option to assess your digestive tract for infections or disease-causing organisms (pathogens).
Stool tests can be a series of analyses that are extremely handy in detecting pathogens or digestive diseases like inflammatory bowel syndrome.
Health experts use them to help diagnose signs and symptoms that may indicate gut infections, such as:
Doctors sometimes use stool tests to evaluate how well the pancreas works and possibly identify any disease.1
It’s because certain pancreatic enzymes, like trypsin or elastase, may be tested in stool.
A CST usually offers a more in-depth gut health analysis than a regular stool culture test. They include more detailed information, such as:
A stool test can pick up many diseases affecting your gut and overall health. Here are some of the common GI problems stool testing can detect:
Besides CSTs, other types of stool tests can also detect any GI abnormalities by checking for blood in your stool.
Bloody stool can be a warning sign of colorectal cancer or other GI problems, like ulcers or polyps. It can also mean:
A comprehensive stool test (CST) isn’t necessarily better than a colonoscopy.
While it may be true that a CST is less invasive than a colonoscopy, they each have their advantages and downsides.
Healthcare professionals use both to screen for colorectal cancer. But between the two, you can do a CST at home—just collect your stool sample and send it back to the lab for analysis.
The CST can pick up blood, which is likely a sign of colorectal cancer. It can also detect the DNA of different types of cancer cells in your gut using your stool.
Colonoscopies, on the other hand, involve inserting a camera into your rectum and colon, making it an invasive option for testing.
It can directly provide an image of your gut lining so your doctor can distinguish any abnormal growths, like polyps or tumors, which may become cancerous.
A CST is less invasive than a colonoscopy, but it may not be as accurate. It’s because factors like mishandling of samples can affect the accuracy of the test results.
In addition, sometimes, when a CST shows positive results, your doctor will still order a colonoscopy to confirm.
To determine which of the two suits you, it’s best to talk to your doctor about your risk factors for colorectal cancer or other GI diseases.
A CST that includes a zonulin marker evaluates your level of zonulin using a stool sample.
Zonulin is a type of protein produced by the cells in your intestines and the liver. It helps regulate intestinal permeability, or how easily substances can move in and out of your intestines.
When zonulin levels are high, the tight junctions in the intestine can loosen up, allowing more substances to leak.9
Elevated zonulin is often linked to inflammatory problems, such as Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
CSTs can be fairly accurate since they employ cutting-edge technology like PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and DNA sequencing.
However, they may have some limitations. For instance, different factors can affect their accuracy, including the following:
Yes, a CST can miss parasites.
It’s because some parasites are hard to detect, especially if not present in large amounts in the stool sample. In addition, some testing methods may not be sensitive enough to pick them up.
Most CSTs follow these typical instructions:
Yes, a stool-based test can potentially detect colon problems. For instance, a stool DNA test can look for signs of colon cancer using a stool sample.
A stool DNA test examines your sample for cells and then checks for changes in that cell's genetic material or DNA. Some DNA changes can indicate the presence or probability of cancer.
Although doctors consider colonoscopy the best option for testing for colorectal cancer, a stool test also provides valuable insights into your colon health. It can detect blood in your stool, for example.
The most common bacteria tested in a stool sample include:
Most of these bacteria can cause diarrhea for several days, which may or may not be bloody.
Yes, a sample of your stool can detect Helicobacter.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a spiral-shaped bacteria that can penetrate your gut lining and cause painful sores or ulcers.
A stool sample can be tested for antigens or substances that trigger an immune response against H. pylori infection.
Lab experts can also culture your stool sample to look for the presence of H. pylori bacteria.
Know Your DNA Reviews
Looking for the best microbiome kit on the market? Look no further! Our review round-up page has all the information you need to make an informed decision.