Ombre Review: Ombre's microbiome testing and probiotics

Along with a line of probiotics, Thryve offers to test your microbiome and make personalized recommendations. Is it legit? Read our full 2022 review.

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Medically reviewed by:
Last updated: Apr 10th, 2022
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In this Review

Our Findings

Why you should trust us

How we evaluated Ombre

What is Ombre?

Products and pricing

How does Ombre work?

Who is Ombre for?

Getting started with Ombre

HSA, FSA, and health insurance

Privacy considerations

Ombre FAQ

How Ombre compares to the competition

Ombre is a good service for those curious about their microbiome and for anyone with symptoms they suspect might originate in their guts. Testing is easy, their results are comprehensive, and their probiotics are effective and well-priced.

In your gut, a population of bacteria and other microbes live in symbiosis with your digestive system. Current research suggests that the composition of bacteria in your gut influences and reflects your gut health and impacts other aspects of your physical and mental well-being.

Imbalances in your gut microbiome can cause symptoms such as bloating, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation. Your gut microbiome can influence chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Ombre, formerly known as Thryve, uses robust scientific processes to analyze your microbiome and give personalized probiotic and dietary recommendations. Does Ombre’s program work well? We thoroughly tested Ombre’s services and studied the science behind them so you can decide if you should give them a try.

At Innerbody Research, we extensively test each health service we review, including Ombre. All told, our team has spent over 147 hours testing and researching the services of Ombre and their chief competitors to provide an accurate, unbiased analysis of how the services compare, free of marketing jargon and gimmicks.

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles. We evaluate the service based on adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

Accuracy

Rating: 8.5/10

Ombre’s testing approach delivers exceptional accuracy. They rely on 16S RNA to sequence the genetic signatures of your gut’s bacteria. Then, they compare that detailed information with dozens of thousands of studies and pit your measurements against those logged in the database of the American Gut Project. That gives them the ability to provide you with confident recommendations about what symptoms you may experience due to your current gut makeup and what you can change in your diet or lifestyle to address them.

Cost

Rating: 9.1/10

Ombre’s main product is their Gut Health Test, and it’s one of the more competitively priced tests on the market. If you want to continue testing your gut, their premium package allows you to access future tests at an even lower price. They offer several probiotic options, all of which cost around what most store-bought probiotics would, but their formulas target specific needs.

Results

Rating: 8.5/10

Ombre’s results are a nice mix of helpful detail and a restrained and understandable interface. Most customers will be interested in what foods they should avoid or incorporate more into their diets, and here Ombre goes into great detail. But they couch other information in sections that relate directly to potential symptoms like anxiety, bloating, or poor sleep. That way, you don’t have to make correlations in the data yourself. You can find actionable insights almost immediately.

The only downside to their results process is that they hide additional information behind a $10 premium paywall. Our testers found that the pages on the premium side interacted strangely with those in the original results, particularly the food recommendations page. It made our experience more confusing and made the process of changing our diets seem more daunting.

Speed and efficiency

Rating: 8.0/10

This one is relatively tough to judge. Our testers happened to order their tests just as Ombre was making a change to their brand name and their executive structure. It was also at the height of 2021’s supply chain issues. Shipping times on our tests were significantly delayed, with orders taking an average of three weeks to ship out from the company. Other aspects of the company’s efficiency, such as results turnaround and email communication, showed a commitment to speed, so we’ve given them the benefit of the doubt and only docked them slightly for these delays.

Customer care

Rating: 7.8/10

The interactions that our testers had with Ombre staff were all positive. At the moment, those interactions are limited to email communications as their chat option is more or less useless. They kept up with us as we awaited our results, letting us know when they received our samples and even giving us a heads up when they were nearly finished with their analysis. One major failing in this department was the lack of any notification when our results were finally ready. If it weren’t for our regular check-ins on the site for continued research, we might have missed them entirely.

Ombre is a San Francisco-based health and wellness startup. They offer a test to analyze the bacteria in your gut by examining a stool sample. Based on their findings, they generate a gut microbiome report. This report provides actionable insights to help you improve your gut microbiome, including the option to create a personalized probiotic regimen. Ombre suggests that enhancing your gut health could allow you to achieve better weight loss results, see improvements in your mood, feel more energetic, and improve your digestion.

In addition to their personalized program, Ombre offers a menu of four “off the shelf” probiotics formulated to improve specific aspects of your health.

Ombre offers a Gut Health test, three probiotics, and one prebiotic. You can save money on any of their products by subscribing to them instead of making a one-time purchase. Many probiotics take at least a few weeks to start making a real difference, so subscribing is likely your best value. Here’s a quick breakdown of products and pricing. And remember, our readers can take an additional 10% off their first order with the code INNERBODY.

Ombre Gut Health Test

The Ombre Gut Health Test is Ombre’s microbiome test. You send them a small sample of your stool, and they generate a report about the bacteria present in your stool, which is a snapshot of the bacteria present in your gut.

Ombre uses a wealth of published scientific research to understand how the abundance of different types of bacteria in your gut relates to the available scientific research and the microbiomes of others. This research allows them to suggest what your results could mean for your overall health. Ombre uses this information to generate personalized diet and probiotic recommendations to improve your gut bacteria’s diversity and health. This report includes foods and probiotics that could help decrease potentially pathogenic bacteria and increase the variety of other, more helpful species.

Importantly, Ombre explicitly points out that they are not a diagnostic service. If you’re concerned about any gastrointestinal symptoms or any other health concerns, you should speak to your health care provider.

Probiotics and prebiotics

As well as their personalized probiotic blends that they create for you based on the information in your report, Ombre also offers a selection of three off-the-shelf probiotics and one prebiotic. These blends can improve specific aspects of overall well-being.

Collection

The quality of any data is only as good as the quality of the sample. Thankfully Ombre’s collection method ensures that when your sample arrives in the laboratory, it is as close to a representation of the bacteria in your gut as possible. This is because their proprietary sample buffer keeps bacterial cells alive but not growing during transport.

As a result, Ombre's sample processing and sequencing are almost 30% more accurate than other service providers, which use either dry swabs or cell lysis buffers.

Analysis

Ombre’s testing method involves analyzing a specific type of RNA called 16S RNA. 16S RNA is a ribosomal RNA that is highly abundant in bacterial cells. Regions of this 16S RNA (termed V3-V4 regions) are highly variable among different bacteria species. This feature allows Ombre to distinguish among various species of bacteria by analyzing the genetic sequences of these regions and quantifying bacterial species in the gut.

Ombre tests for over 10,000 species of bacteria and only shows you the statistically significant strains in your final report.

Insights

After Ombre has analyzed your microbiome, they aim to provide you with actionable insights, but how can you trust that the insights are reliable?

Ombre’s proprietary software analyzes your bacterial makeup against the dozens of thousands of results cataloged in the American Gut Project. They also run your results through an algorithm that takes into account every single microbiome research article written to date (around 50,000 of them) and provides a confidence score, so they know just how accurate your results are.

They take into account whether the research occurs in humans, cells, or test tubes, as well as the length of each study. They also consider whether or not the study was a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Their software allows them to summarize the features of 4,000 microbes and map them to over 1,000 food ingredients and over 500 supplements.

Results

Ombre has a white paper demonstrating the effectiveness of their personalized probiotic recommendations in a study with 99 patients. These individuals reported improvement in symptoms such as mood, digestion, and weight. Participants also had improved variety in their microbiome (defined as reducing pathogenic bacteria and a moderate increase in diversity).

Treatment

It may be confusing at first, but it’s essential to understand that “personalized probiotics” doesn’t mean that Ombre will create a specific formula tailored to your results and send you those custom probiotics. They offer personalized recommendations, which means that they take your results into account when recommending which of their off-the-shelf probiotics would serve you best.

Like most probiotic regimens, even a personalized formula would take time to yield results. Our testers noticed increased bowel regularity and decreased gut discomfort in the first few days to a week of treatment. More intense symptoms, like mental health issues and more severe digestive problems, resolved somewhat less frequently and took longer to see positive change.

The truth is that Ombre is for anyone. Collecting a sample is simple, and the results are easy enough for most people to understand, especially the recommendations. Ombre is particularly ideal for anyone who suffers from mild or occasional experiences of the following:

  • Digestive discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Overly dry or oily skin
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Problems sleeping

There are undeniably more symptoms that Ombre's probiotics and food recommendations can address. Still, we encourage anyone with significant pain, discomfort, or mental health issues to seek additional help. Ombre takes pains to remind their customers that their testing is not diagnostic and that a physician will be your best dietary and lifestyle advice source.

Ordering any pre-formulated probiotic products from Ombre is an easy process, like purchasing any product online. If you decide you want to get a personalized gut health report from Ombre, here is what you'll do:

  1. Go to the Ombre website and order the Ombre Gut Health Test.
  2. After receiving your kit, activate it on the website and create an account.
  3. Collect your sample. Ombre recommends you take your test after your first bowel movement of the day. After completing your bowel movement, you wipe but do not discard the tissue. You then use the cotton swab from the collection kit to grab a small sample and put it into the collection tube.
  4. Send the sample back to Ombre in the pre-paid envelope.
  5. Wait to receive your results. Ombre has a decent turnaround time, and you'll likely get your results around three weeks after Ombre receives your sample.
  6. When your results are ready, you will get a gut health report that includes lots of information about the bacteria that Ombre found in your sample. It also has actionable insights to improve your gut microbiome, including a diet plan and a custom probiotic blend designed to help you achieve your health goals. If you want even more specific results and recommendations, you can upgrade to their premium package at any time for an additional $10.

Our testers found that the initial shipping times from Ombre were relatively slow. In prior testing phases, we observed that the company (then known as Thryve) had shipped products and produced results within the timeframes they promised.

It’s also worth noting that we ordered our tests this time right as the company was undergoing their rebranding from Thryve to Ombre, and it was at the height of global shipping bottlenecks. Things should only get more streamlined from there, but you may still need some patience before getting your hands on a test.

Depending on your specific FSA/HSA, you may be able to pay for Ombre’s services in this way, but you will need to check with your provider first. There are likely no insurance companies that would cover the cost of a test from Ombre or their probiotics. Still, a small number may consider a receipt submitted for partial reimbursement.

Ombre protects your privacy by separating your personally identifiable information from your protected health information. They use multiple layers of encryption and protection to ensure your data is secure. They also promise never to sell your data or provide information to health insurance companies or employers.

You can opt in to share your data for anonymous research purposes. If you do, the lab may reuse your sample or the data it collects to improve analysis and develop new techniques and technologies.

Ombre will also provide your raw data as FASTQ files. If you have any experience with DNA sequencing (or know someone who does), you could use this data yourself.

The microbiome testing space isn’t overrun with providers, but there are some worth considering among the few that offer what Ombre offers.

Viome

Viome is an outstanding company in the microbiome testing space, with the ability to quantify your entire gut microbiome — not just the bacteria. They utilize cutting-edge technologies in sequencing, and they’re even developing their own hardware and software to speed up the process and increase accuracy.

Unlike Ombre, which provides recommendations from pre-made probiotics, Viome formulates your probiotic blend in response to your specific test results. As part of a subscription to their system, you can also receive two free microbiome tests each year to keep track of your progress and allow the company to make any necessary tweaks to your probiotics, prebiotics, and supplements.

Read all about Viome’s offerings in our full review.

Floré

Floré doesn’t provide the degree of insights you’ll get from Viome of Ombre, though they can formulate custom probiotics based on your results. What is perhaps most disappointing is their reporting on foods. A sidebar on your results page gives you a bird’s eye view of what you should and shouldn’t eat to improve your health, but it’s sorely lacking in specifics compared to their competitors.

Biohm

Biohm doesn’t have quite as comprehensive a testing process as Viome, but they do test for fungi in addition to bacteria. Like Ombre, they offer probiotics in response to your test results, but these are all pre-made and not formulated to match your needs precisely. One exciting offering that Biohm provides, which we found very useful, was a live consultation with a dietician to help clarify your results and create an action plan for wellness.