Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regards to medical testing.
Everlywell provides convenient at-home test kits for a variety of health parameters like food allergy and metabolism. The company claims their tests are accurate but there have been some questions raised by the health media about whether Everlywell can reliably provide medical insights.
In this article we’ll review Everlywell’s most popular tests based on medical research to determine if they’re likely to be effective.
Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test Review
The most popular test, and the one which has received the most controversy, is Everlywell’s Food Sensitivity Test.
Everlywell claims to test for an antibody response to 204 common foods that may be “causing you discomfort.” By testing for and eliminating these foods from the diet, a patient would theoretically have an improved quality of life.
The idea works on paper, but the problem is that Everlywell uses the less accurate type of food allergy testing.
Everlywell tests for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, and medical research has shown that these antibodies do not play a causal role in food hypersensitivity reactions. The linked study, published in the Advances in Dermatology and Allergology journal, directly states that “laboratory tests based on the titrations of sIgG” (which is what Everlywell performs) “should be considered as insignificant in the diagnosis of food allergy”.
While this type of testing is a marker of immune response, it cannot accurately diagnose allergy/sensitivity because even healthy non-allergic patients produce IgG antibodies in response to common food allergens.
The type of tests that are more commonly used for food allergy are called immunoglobulin E (IgE) tests, and this is the type of testing that would likely be ordered if a patient’s doctor referred them to an allergist office for food allergy testing.
Medical research has shown that IgE-mediation is what causes the adverse responses to food proteins that create discomfort in the patient.
We find it strange that Everlywell doesn’t address this distinction on their site, or at least provide some line of reasoning as to why they order IgG tests rather than IgE for food allergy testing.
We believe that more data is always better in treating patients, but we wouldn’t recommend Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test because it seems to use a type of testing that’s not backed by medical literature.
Another downside to Everlywell’s test is that it must be paid out of pocket, while patients with medical insurance can often get an IgE test from an allergist office at a significantly discounted rate, or even free, if there’s a documented medical need.
We recommend that patients speak with their doctor about getting an IgE test if they’re experiencing allergic symptoms in response to foods.
Everlywell COVID Test Review
Everlywell offers a COVID-19 test, which uses the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method. This has been shown in recent medical research to be more accurate than antigen testing, and is becoming the standard COVID test.
For patients with high discretionary income, this may be a good option since they can stay at home and minimize the risk of exposing themselves or others while ordering the test if they suspect they have COVID.
For patients with low discretionary income in the U.S., this exact same test is available for free at many locations. ThermoFisher’s website has a resource page where patients can input their information and schedule an RT-PCR test. These tests are usually free, even for patients without insurance, but it’s worthwhile to call and confirm beforehand.
Overall we find Everlywell’s COVID test to be well-designed and based on the current medical standard for COVID testing, and would recommend it to consumers with high discretionary income who believe they may have COVID.
Everlywell Metabolism Test Review
The third and final type of testing provided by Everlywell that we’ll review is their Metabolism Test that claims to “test the hormones that influence weight and energy”.
Outside of extremely rare medical conditions, it’s primarily dietary factors like caloric intake and calories burned through activity that are the biggest influences on weight, but energy can definitely be strongly influenced by sub-optimal hormone levels.
Everlywell’s Metabolism Test tests for cortisol, free testosterone and thyroid-stimulating hormone.
Medical research has shown that cortisol testing is an effective first-line test for adrenal insufficiency. Patients suffering from chronic stress often have elevated cortisol levels, so we find this to be an effective type of test for general health maintenance.
Free testosterone may be more accurate in diagnosing hormone issues in men than total testosterone based on clinical research, but both would typically be necessary for diagnosing any health condition, which is why a standard hormone panel contains both readings.
Abnormally low testosterone levels in men can negatively impact energy, so this could be a useful, but not predictive, test for male patients.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone is included in most tests of thyroid function, but T4, T3 and thyroid antibody tests are usually measured as well.
While Everlywell’s Metabolism Test may provide some useful data that could lead to further testing, we wouldn’t recommend it to patients because it’s not enough information to diagnose any specific conditions.
While it won’t cause any harm, we find it somewhat illogical to pay out-of-pocket for a test of three different hormone levels that aren’t typically analyzed together to diagnose or treat any condition.
We recommend that patients with suspected hormone issues speak with their doctor about a more full panel of hormone testing. For example, older men suspecting testosterone deficiency would likely want to test for total testosterone and free testosterone, and potentially human growth hormone, estrogen and other hormones to get the full picture and make a more accurate diagnosis.