5Strands Review 2022 - The Best Way to Test Intolerances?
If you suspect you might have a food or environmental intolerance, you should probably consider taking one of 5Strands’ at-home tests. This company analyzes hundreds of different factors that could be causing you stress or discomfort – far more than most competitors on the market. The report will give you a huge amount of data to work with – but the results aren’t the easiest to interpret.
If you’re suffering from symptoms like fatigue, bloating, swelling, or discomfort, you might have intolerances to food or environmental factors. You can find out with a 5Strands at-home intolerance test.
It’s super easy to get started. You just need to pluck out a few hairs, fill out a postcard, and send your sample. After that, you’ll get an in-depth overview of your food intolerances, nutritional deficiencies, and aversions to environmental factors, all delivered straight to your inbox.
5Strands is different from DNA testing companies that merely detect your disease and deficiency genetic predispositions (i.e., what you might suffer from). Instead, this company uses a method called bioresonance imagingthattells you your actual intolerance status.
Is bioresonance imaging better than DNA testing for intolerances? Which test can best put you on a path to wellness? I took the 5Strands test to answer these questions.
When you order a test kit from 5Strands, you have two options. You can either have a test kit mailed to your door (which is what I did), or you can select a “downloadable kit,” which has instructions for sending in your sample included in your email receipt.
Should you choose the first option, the 5Strands test kit will arrive in a manilla envelope, containing several small items:
Instructions on a postcard, with lots of text, but easy to understand
A response card that must be sent back with your sample, which I learned some customers forget to do
Sample collection (white) and protection (silver) envelopes, which must be placed one within the other
Prepaid mailing envelope, to send back your sample contained within the other two envelopes
A group photo of the 5Strands Team
Taking the test was easy enough. I plucked a few hairs from the nape of my neck, put the sample within the white envelope, put the white envelope within the silver envelope, and posted it back in the prepaid envelope along with the response card.
Pro tip: If you have long hair, trim the strands to be two inches long, making sure to use the ends that were closest to your scalp as your sample. This will make packing the envelope so much easier!
This report tests nearly 600 food and beverage items, compared with Everlywell‘s 204 food items test.
One advantage of testing so many foods is that you can use it to drive a personalized elimination diet to gradually cross foods off your list while still having plenty of foods left to eat. Although I wasn’t ready to commit to a full elimination diet, my results told me that I’m intolerant to some of the foods I eat regularly, so I could at least eliminate those, and I felt much better for doing so.
2. Environmental Intolerance Report
This report tests for nearly 200 environmental factors that you regularly encounter, such as grasses, trees, animals, fabrics, flowers, dust, and mold. By comparison, Everlywell covers 40 common indoor and outdoor allergens, and CRI Genetics offers even fewer in its DNA Allergy + Health report.
I laughed out loud when I learned that I’m severely intolerant to palm trees since I’d already been complaining about our sago palms. I had swollen scratches all over my arms from the trees even as I read my results.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies Report
The in-depth nutrition report includes over 80 items, and it tells you if you’re deficient in amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and/or fatty acids that may be contributing to your tiredness, hair loss, or dandruff. This is many more items than competitor companies such as Vitagene. Competitor company LetsGetChecked only tests for three items but costs twice as much as 5Strands.
I was somewhat shocked to see that I was severely deficient in Vitamin C despite eating a relatively balanced diet and taking a multivitamin every day. I was also surprised to see that I was severely deficient in tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in poultry (which I eat 4-5 times per week). Unless the report is wrong, it means I should be more careful about not relying on supplements and more careful about not pairing some foods with dairy.
4. Metal and Mineral Imbalances Report
This 60-item report indicates substances you may be exposed to that could be causing skin irritation, digestive issues, mood swings, depression, and a host of other symptoms. This is much more comprehensive than Everlywell’s four-times-more-extensive heavy metals urine test for only seven items.
Out of the 60 items, I had severe overexposure to two metals – antimony and rhenium – which customer support suggested is actually a lot less than the seven-or-so metals (plus some minerals) to which most customers are overexposed. Therefore, my body seems to be doing a good job of clearing itself of extra metals and minerals.
5. Health Tracking Over Time
Unlike DNA testing, which only assesses your lifetime predispositions to the diseases and deficiencies that you “might” suffer from, 5Strands’ bioresonance technology tracks the causes of your current symptoms. You can take the test multiple times – up to quarterly – to see how you’re doing in your efforts to eliminate harmful substances (including some foods).
You should receive an email with a link to your results within seven to ten business days. Sure enough, my results came in eight business days (or 12 days total, including weekends). The 20-page PDF began with some background information followed by a giant, color-coded table.
Please note that I’m only describing the food results here. However, eliminating environmental factors (e.g., pet allergens, metal imbalances, etc.) follows the same process.
To understand what to do with the table, you have to watch a long video, which I found to be less helpful than a simple step-by-step guide would have been. In general, the report contains more data than guidance, andit took me five or six hours to understand my results despite my data analysis experience.
One key point is that the results provide guidelines for an elimination diet. For a few months, you’re meant to cut out all the red (severe) and yellow (moderate) foods, then gradually reintroduce the eliminated foods to see how you react. This is not intended as a long-term diet plan, which is a good thing because the long list of prohibited foods made it look like I wouldn’t be able to eat anything!
The instructional video helped here by suggesting comparing the lists of “possible intolerances” with the “master list” of foods that were tested. This helped me identify the foods I could eat (many fruits) and the food groups that would be best avoided (in my case, dairy). Although I’ve noticed symptoms after eating pasta with cream sauce, or too much ice cream, I always thought I was okay with cheese and yogurt, so the totality of my dairy intolerance was surprising.
A “false negative” is unlikely in this elimination diet. So, if the report gives you a negative result for a specific food (i.e., suggests you can continue to eat it), you are highly unlikely to be intolerant.
A “false positive” is much more likely, with up to 50% chance that you’re tolerant to a food that was listed as an intolerance. That’s why it’s okay to reintroduce some foods.
Looking for groups of positive results can help you identify which items you are most likely to have a true intolerance to. Another example for me was orange vegetables: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash. Since those positive results are clustered together, it decreases the likelihood of a false-positive among the group.
For most categories, I had about a 40% intolerance rate (roughly the estimated false-positive rate). However, in dairy and seafood categories, I was intolerant to nearly 70% of the items tested, suggesting a biological finding.
As suggested in the FAQ section, it’s a good idea to start cutting out the frequently-eaten foods that are on your intolerance risk. I felt better after eliminating dairy, butter, and beef.
5Strands’ pricing is simple and straightforward: you purchase the kit for the particular answers you’d like. Depending on the number of factors tested, you can expect to pay between $50 and $150.
There are tests specifically for children, which can help if you have a little picky eater in the family or someone who can’t easily say what’s upsetting their stomach. These tests are priced the same and report on the same factors as the adult versions – so the difference may be in the analysis of the DNA sample or in the recommendations you receive, it’s unclear.
On average, the kits are priced lower than competing kits from companies such as Vitagene and GenoPalate, and also test more biomarkers than other diet and fitness DNA testing companies like CrossDNA and DNAfit.
When it comes to affordability, it could be a case of “you get what you pay for.” I’d prefer to pay more for one of the competitor tests that include graphs, charts, lists of good food choices, and sometimes even meal plans. In contrast to the other companies, 5Strands requires you to figure a lot of it out for yourself.
Prices are presented in US dollars, and payment options include PayPal, Amazon Pay, and most major credit cards. There are no subscriptions, upgrades, or extras to pay for, apart from the cost of shipping, which is added to the final purchase price.
Overall, 5Strands is a customer-friendly company. It boasts a blog, several social media presences, and the ability to contact the company via postal mail, email, or telephone from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST, Monday through Friday.
Themost important self-support resource is the FAQ section, which contains vital information for decoding your results. For example, my results (shown left, below) told me that I’m not supposed to eat “E464 hydroxypropyl methylcellulose,” but I needed the FAQs (shown right, below) to tell me that this is a thickener/emulsifier/stabilizer.
Since I still had some questions, I also called Customer Support to ask about one of the metals I am overexposed to. The customer service representative simply (and cheerfully) referred me to the “Items Tested” list.
Getting questions answered by email took longer. I sent an email on a Friday, followed up on the following Monday, and received a response on that Wednesday.
The email response once again referred me to the “Items Tested” list, so I searched the list for Rhenium, the metal I had overexposure to. Sure enough, the Items Tested list told me that a possible source of Rhenium exposure was the MRI scans I’d had in recent years.
The conclusion I draw is that the information is there if you dig deep enough into the self-support resources, or if you ask the right questions. However, I don’t think you should have to dig so deep; some of the information should be included in the reports rather than being buried in the FAQs.
Finally, A Diet That Lets Me Consume Bacon, Alcohol, and Noodles
5Strands’ objective is to determine which foods you should eliminate from your diet to identify the root cause of your symptoms. The reviews I’ve read suggest that many people feel noticeably better within a week or two.
The downside is that the personalized elimination diet takes a decent amount of effort, therefore it’s not a good choice for anyone not wanting to make a commitment. Since there are very few personalized elimination diets on the market, 5Strands has carved out a nice niche for itself. And using bioresonance rather than DNA means you can take the test multiple times and track the progress of your results.
On the downside, the amount of guidance isn’t as good as I’d like it to be, and not as good as DNA-based competitors such as Vitagene or GenoPalate. On the plus side, 5Strands has helped me finally find a diet that lets me consume bacon, alcohol, and noodles!
The accuracy of intolerance tests is difficult to calculate. It would entail people adhering to a strict elimination diet for several weeks or months. Unfortunately, that information isn’t available. When it comes to understanding 5Strands accuracy, there are two general things to know:
Negative results are accurate and reliable. In other words, having a negative result, but actually being intolerant, is highly unlikely. This is why 5Strands recommends eating only foods you have a negative result for as the basis of your elimination diet.
Allergy/intolerance tests tend to have high false-positive rates,though, up to 50-60%. This would mean having a positive result, but actually having no reactivity to the substance. That’s why it’s ok to try some of the foods again in a couple of months.
The other thing to consider about the 5Strands hair test is the testing method. 5Strands uses (and stands behind the accuracy of) bioresonance testing. It’s highly regarded by some, and called “pseudoscience” by others. Bioresonance testing is an alternative medicine practice based on analyzing energy patterns and wavelengths transferred between all living matters.
How does a 5Strands test work?
Taking a 5Strands test is quite simple and the steps are easy to understand. Just pluck a few hairs from the nape of your neck; pack, seal, and label the envelopes; and drop it off in the mail.
At the lab, a bioresonance device reads your body’s natural energy field using your hair sample. Your personal energy field is compared to a database of foods, drinks, and other substances to see which items might trigger a reaction in you. The higher reading for a specific item, the more sensitive you are. 5Strands then categorizes these numbers into four groups: no sensitivity; and mild, moderate, or severe intolerance. You’ll get these results in your inbox one-to-two weeks later.
After eating only the foods on the master list for a few weeks, you can then re-introduce one food at a time from your list of “suspects” – your items categorized as moderate or severe intolerances. If you notice a recurrence of symptoms, remove that item from your diet. If not, continue to include it in moderate amounts. Testing can be repeated as frequently as every three months to base your diet on your most up to date results.
How does 5Strands compare to more well-known competitors?
Two things about 5Strands stand out as different from more well-known competitors:
5Strands tests many more markers:
Nearly six hundred food and beverage items are tested. Competitor Everlywell‘s premium test checks only 204 food items, which is far more than most others on the market.
Over 80 items are measured in the nutrition report, which is many more items than Vitagene. Plus, the Essential Vitamin Test from LetsGetChecked only tests for three items and costs more than twice as much as 5Strands.
The metal and mineral imbalances report measures potential overexposure to 60 items. This is also extremely comprehensive compared to other companies, including Everlywell, which offers a heavy metals urine test for only seven items at four times the cost of 5Strands.
5Strands uses a different testing method:
Bioresonance testing is different from DNA testing. DNA testing is widely accepted by the medical community and used in clinical practice. Bioresonance is considered a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAMS) and is not typically used in medical practice.
One advantage of using bioresonance testing is the ability to repeat testing every few months. Bioresonance testing is believed to give information about how your system is reacting to something in the present moment. On the other hand, your genetic variants remain the same throughout your life.
How much does a 5Strands test cost?
Pricing at 5Strands is lower than many of the DNA-testing competitors, such as Vitagene or GenoPalate. The company also regularly offers discounts that can help you save a little extra money. Starting price for 5Strands is
One thing that increases the overall value from 5Strands is that it tests a higher number of markers than several diet and fitness DNA testing companies, likeCrossDNA or DNAfit. However, most competitors’ reports include visuals such as graphs and charts, lists of good food choices, and sometimes even meal plans. 5Strands leaves this information for you to figure out.
Who should consider taking a 5Strands test?
Anyone interested in figuring out the underlying causes of their intolerance symptoms should consider taking the 5Strands test. Intolerance symptoms can affect all areas of the body and present in multiple ways:
Head: headache, mood swings, eye mucus, and runny nose
Gut: bloating, IBS, water retention, diarrhea
Body: joint pain, skin irritation, itching, and acne
This test will be best for you when you are committed to figuring out triggers for your symptoms. Learning what your results mean and how to do a personalized elimination diet requires a decent amount of effort. It might not be the right time for this test if you aren’t ready for that commitment.
Reveal The Hidden Triggers For Your Pet’s Symptoms
If your pet displays signs of food or environmental sensitivities, could the 5Strands pet intolerance test help you get to the bottom of it? I have a pet with intolerance symptoms, so I decided to put the 5Strands pet intolerance kit to the test.
5Strands tests for over 350 food and environmental intolerances in dogs, cats, and horses. You send them a few strands of hair. 5Strands tests the sample and delivers a report with a sensitivity score for each substance. This lets you determine and eliminate the most likely triggers for your pet.
I tested my cat, Zeus, and received the report in just over a week, which is impressively fast. His results were surprising!
Get Answers About Your Pet’s Symptoms, Fast!
The 5Strands Pet Intolerance Test Kit arrived in a branded box inside a manilla envelope. The kit contains:
Instructions. Printed on the red-bordered card, the instructions were clear and easy to understand.
Response Card. Be careful, this card is REQUIRED for processing your kit. Make sure you fill it out and mail it back in with the sample. Just FYI – while I was reading reviews about 5Strands, I noticed several people said they missed this step and therefore, their tests couldn’t be processed.
Sample Collection and Sample Protection envelopes. Place your sample in the white envelope and seal it, then place the white envelope inside the silver one.
Prepaid mailing envelope. This is the envelope labeled “Business Reply Mail.” Before returning it, make sure your sample and your response card are inside!
Card from the 5Strands Team. This is the group photo.
Taking the 5Strands test was so simple and easy. Zeus didn’t even notice when I plucked hairs from the nape of his neck. Then, I just packed, sealed, and labeled the envelopes and dropped the package in the mail.
Pro tip: If your animal has fine fur or hair, put more than the requested number of strands into the envelope. This will help ensure you get plenty of readings the first time!
Hair/Skin – bald spots, crusty scabs, brown discoloration.
Face – redness, discharge, and/or hair loss on the muzzle, chin or eyes.
Feet – redness, odor, joint pain, inflammation, or brown discoloration.
5Strands tests 355 items – 255 pet food ingredients, and 100 environmental factors that may trigger intolerance symptoms. You can find the full food list here. To give you an idea, the food intolerance test looks at the following categories:
Proteins – beef, bison, chicken, duck, lamb, pork, turkey, etc.
Seafood – catfish, crab, millet, salmon, sardine, tuna, etc.
Grains – alfalfa, barley, corn, oat, soy, wheat, yeast, etc.
Additives – vitamins, minerals, etc.
Fats – usually animal fats
Remember, 5Strands focuses on giving you an elimination diet guide. Any ingredients that register as a moderate to severe intolerance should be eliminated from the diet for a period of weeks. Then, ingredients can be re-introduced one by one to determine which ones trigger symptoms.
The environmental test includes over 100 common items (see the full list here) that you pet may have regular exposure to, such as:
Grasses – Bermuda, crab, fescue, Kentucky, etc.
Cleaning Supplies – apple cider vinegar, baking soda, glycerin, etc.
Trees – ash, cherry, pear, pine, willow, etc.
Fabrics – cotton, leather, nylon, wool, etc.
Vegetation – bushes, plants, mold
Animals – cats, dogs, insects
Results from the environmental intolerance test will help you figure out if something you use regularly is making your pet sick. Keep in mind, your pet can register a “severe” intolerance score even if your pet is NOT regularly exposed to the item.
5Strands is a solid choice for pet intolerance testing, but my research uncovered some other good options that you might be interested in..
EasyDNA Cat Intolerance Test:This feline sensitivities kit tests for 73 common allergens – 44 food items and 29 environmental substances. It has a lower price than 5Strands but tests for significantly fewer items.
NutriScan Cat Intolerance Test:This food reactivity kit for cats tests 56 common ingredients. It requires saliva collection rather than a single swab collection, and tests for food sensitivities with IgA and IgM antibodies. It tests fewer food items but carries a significantly higher price tag.
5 Standout Features of 5Strands’ Pet DNA Test(s)
Get Answers Quickly – In Just 1-2 Weeks!
One of my favorite parts about 5Strands is how quickly the results are turned around. It only takes 5-10 business days. I took the 5Strands test myself, as well as using it with Zeus. Both times, I got the results in eight business days.
In contrast, I waited for more than nine weeks for my results from Basepaws.
And if your pet is suffering from even mild sensitivity symptoms, you want your answers as fast as possible. For example, by the time we tried 5Strands with our cat, we had already been to the vet THREE TIMES. We had tried antibiotics for two weeks. Then we tried antihistamines for two weeks. And then we tried both antibiotics and antihistamines together. We had also already tried having him professionally groomed to help with some of the symptoms in his fur.
So, by the time we tried 5 Strands, we already had spent about 8 weeks and a few hundred dollars looking for answers. The quick turnaround time from 5Strands was definitely appreciated.
If you suspect that your pet has a food intolerance, don’t just buy pet food that’s branded “sensitive”.
The 5Strands test revealed that Zeus had “severe” intolerances to many ingredients commonly found in sensitive pet food.
It was eye-opening to realize how much time and money I could’ve wasted trying multiple prescription diets. Hopefully having the 5Strands guide for an elimination diet will help me decode my cat’s symptoms and get him on the road to better health quickly.
The 5Strands Standard Pet Package looks at 355 items – 255 food ingredients and 100 environmental factors. That’s about ten times as many as other pet food intolerance tests.
To help make the results easier to understand, 5Strands only includes foods on your report that your pet showed some level of intolerance to. So, if it’s on the full list of tested food items but not on your report, your pet did not show any reactivity. These are the ingredients that you can include in your pet’s elimination diet. Food items with moderate-severe results should be eliminated for 6-8 weeks and then added back individually.
Find Out How Environmental Factors May Be Affecting Your Pet
Aside from potential food intolerances, 5Strands also helps determine if your pet is reacting to something in the environment. Not all sensitivities are food-based. The Pet Standard Package checks for possible intolerances to 100 environmental factors. Potential environmental triggers include things like:
Household items – fabrics, cleaning supplies
Vegetation – plants, grasses, trees
Animals & insects
Mold & fungi
Zeus tested as severely intolerant to ants. If Zeus ever gets outside (especially into the part of our yard with an ant problem) I’ll know to watch more closely for symptoms. This information could also help his veterinarian determine a best treatment plan too.
The large variety of items covered by the 5Strands test increases the likelihood the panel includes vegetation and insects that live near your home. The 5Strands panel also contains more insect testing like ants, mosquitoes, and fleas – all things that could be extremely bothersome for outdoor pets.
Easy Sample Collection That’s Available For Multiple Species
When I started searching for at-home intolerance testing for cats, I was surprised by the lack of options, so I was impressed to find that 5Strands tests:
In addition, sample collection is easy and painless – just pluck a few strands of hair from the back of the neck. 5Strands may be particularly useful for people who own multiple species with potential intolerances.
5Strands is incredibly affordable for the number of items tested. If you convert the kit cost to a cost per tested item, it works out to about $0.43 each.
Another factor that makes 5Strands particularly good value, is that the test kit includes environmental factors in addition to pet food ingredients. This will give you a more comprehensive idea of your pet’s potential triggers. For example, my cat Zeus scored moderate-severe intolerance to several environmental factors that I know he has some exposure to.
In addition, the 5Strands Test Kit costs less than an average visit to the vet. So, if you can interpret the results and create an elimination diet for your pet, you’ll save a lot of money.
EasyDNA is cheaper than 5Strands but tests far fewer items. NutriScan also tests significantly fewer items, but is substantially more expensive because it claims to be more accurate than hair and swab tests.
Discover The Hidden Trigger of Your Pet’s Symptoms
The results were speedy, as promised. However, that was where my excitement ended. The results come as three email attachments:
A list of your pet’s intolerances (PDF)
A masterlist of everything that 5 Strands tests for (PDF)
A video with vague instructions.
In my opinion, 5Strands is missing the second half of the package – the data interpretation. Unfortunately, that’s up to you.
Determined to figure out why my cat has certain intolerances, I dug into the data. According to the 5Strands video, the first step is to compare your pet’s intolerance list to the list of all items tested.
To do this, I highlighted items that Zeus had a moderate intolerance to in medium gray, and severe intolerance items in dark gray. At the end of this time-consuming process, I was left with three pages that looked like this:
Based on these results, I know my cat can eat: pork, bananas, chia seeds, tapioca, alligator meal, and any other item that’s not highlighted in gray. Similarly, this image also shows that my cat shouldn’t eat raspberries, pea protein, lamb, sunflower seeds, or any item that is highlighted in gray.
The next step is to figure out what pet food Zeus can eat. The results only show potential sensitivities – there are no recommendations for pet food brands. Which isn’t really surprising. After all, brands change their recipes regularly, new brands appear, old ones disappear – it’d be almost impossible for 5Strands to maintain an accurate database, particularly at this price point.
So, attempting to figure it out, I looked at the ingredients in my cat’s food, as it’s the only thing he eats 99.5% of the time.
I went back through the list of items tested, and highlighted the cat food ingredients in yellow. Then, I made a table of the items in my cat’s food that registered as an intolerance. Of the 42 ingredients in my cat’s food, 14 registered as a moderate-severe intolerance, or approximately one-third of the ingredients! Interestingly, ten of the fourteen items were the synthetic vitamins and minerals added to supplement the nutrition in the cat food.
Ingredients in Cat Food &
Food Intolerance List
Chicken By Product
Vitamin E (Natural Tocopherols)
307-309 Synthetic Tocopherols (Vitamin E)
Finding an alternative food was tough. And, since Zeus’s potential intolerances were spread across a variety of proteins and vegetables, I didn’t come across a dry cat food that would suit him.
I also did further research into the environmental factors that may be triggering his symptoms. I followed the same process as above. Then, I compiled a table that included the factors to which Zeus registered a moderate-severe intolerance, AND that he might actually be exposed to. (He’s a pampered indoor house cat after all). Here’s the table:
Occasional minor contact
Constant – he’s a cat!
Constant, present in house
Constant presence, occasional snuggles
He’s an inside-only cat, we do have one in the front yard
Occasionally one gets into the house
Out of the list of 100 items, Zeus could maybe have some interaction with eight of the items. However, to my knowledge, there isn’t contact with magnolia trees, mice, rats, ants, or mosquitoes (or 5 of the 8 items). This leaves exposure to:
Of these three items, I really don’t think any are the root cause of his symptoms. Let’s look at each one:
Cats? Well, he IS a cat, so no avoiding that one.
Dogs? We’ve had our dog for five years, and Zeus has only had symptoms for about a year.
Cotton? Zeus usually sleeps on a wooden windowsill, or on the leather sofa,and is never “dressed”. That, coupled with the fact he doesn’t have skin symptoms, makes me doubtful that cotton is our explanation.
At the end of the results, I had lots of information and several questions. It would exponentially improve the quality of service 5Strands provides if the company invested in creating an algorithm that automated the results analysis.
At the very least, I wish a qualified person helped sort through the potential false positives, like a cat with cat intolerance.
Is there a vet on staff? No.
Can you take this information to your vet? Maybe.
5Strands uses a bioresonance testing method that many homeopathic healers strongly believe in. However, some more traditional veterinarians may not view the testing method as scientifically accurate.
I think 5Strands is a great place to start if your vet recommends trying an elimination diet with your pet.
It’s Called “Affordable Testing,” But Is It Good Value?
5Strands have branded themselves as the “affordable” intolerance test kit. To find out, I took a closer look at some of the key competitors.
The easyDNA cat intolerance test is less expensive, but it only tests a total of 73 substances. The report is fairly straightforward, but that’s largely because of the low number of substances tested.
NutriScan is significantly more expensive, even though it only tests 56 substances. However, this kit uses saliva collection and, what they claim is a more sensitive and accurate test than regular swab and hair sample tests.
So, while you do have to do your own data analysis and further food research, I still firmly believe that 5Strands provides a good value intolerance test based on the amount of data it provides, with pricing starting at just $29.97, although the test that I took with Zeus did cost considerably more.
5Strands displays pricing in U.S. dollars. Payment options include Paypal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover credit cards, as well as Amazon Pay. There are no upgraded plans, subscriptions, or extras to pay for. Although the company does charge for shipping in addition to the cost of the kit.
Overall, 5Strands is a customer-friendly company. The company has a blog, and a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and Instagram. There are several options for contacting 5Strands, including by snail mail to a street address, email, or by phone from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm EST, Monday – Friday.
The 5Strands website is informative, and their FAQs section contains a lot of information that will help you decode your results.
After carefully going through my results, I still didn’t know what to feed my cat. I’m looking for a cat food that’s OK to use instead of just an ingredient list. So, I tried reaching out to 5Strands. I called customer service first. When I took the 5Strands test myself, that was the best way to get in touch.
This time I didn’t get through, so I left a voicemail. I didn’t hear back by the end of the business day, so I sent an email with my question too.
I swiftly got an email response, but wasn’t given any specific brand of pet food to try. Although I understand that they probably can’t be seen to endorse a particular brand of food, I felt like this was a scripted response. And I would’ve been happier if they’d provided me with some good sources, such as a guide to raw food or home-cooked food so I could feel confident that I was making the right choices for my cat.
The 5Strands goal is to guide your pet to better health by determining which foods and environmental factors should be eliminated. Based on 5Strands reviews, many pets feel better in just a couple of weeks!
This test will be helpful for anyone committed to decoding their pet’s intolerance symptoms. However, finding the right pet food to try, and carefully working through potential symptomatic-onset triggers with your pet takes a lot of effort. If you aren’t ready for that commitment, this test may not be the best fit for you.
The right choice for you comes down to what kind of pet you have, and what you want to find out about your pet.
If your pet has intolerance symptoms (hot spots, hair loss, chewing on paws, joint pain, gas, diarrhea, runny nose),go with 5Strands.
Got questions about your dog’s long-term genetic health risks? Consider choosing Embark or Wisdom Panel.
Want to know more about your cat’s genetic health risks? Go withBasepaws.
Have a horse you’d like to find out more genetic health information about? Choose Etalon.
Overall, I’d recommend 5Strands to anyone who’s struggling with “mystery illness” with their pets. The 5Strands test is affordable, quick, and painless. Plus, it gives you a place to start with an elimination diet. This could save you time and money while saving your pet from discomfort!
The drawbacks for me were: the time it takes to interpret your results and the lack of pet food recommendations. While I gained new insights about my cat, I now need to do even more independent research to figure out the best diet for him.
Taking a 5Strands test is quite simple, quick, and painless. It’s by far the easiest sample to collect from your pet – just several strands of hair. The entire 5Strands process is really quite easy:
Sample collection – pluck a few hairs from the nape of your pet’s neck.
Pack, seal, and label the envelopes
Mail it to 5Strands using a pre-paid envelope
Wait 5-10 business days for the results to be analyzed in the lab.
Get your results, straight to your email!
Look through the results and decide how to adjust your pet’s diet.
What happens at the lab?
A bioresonance device reads the body’s natural energy field using the hair sample. Your pet’s personal energy field is compared to a database of foods, other substances, and environmental factors to see which items might trigger your pet’s symptoms.
The higher reading for a specific item, the more sensitive you are. 5Strands then categorizes these numbers into 4 groups: no sensitivity; and mild, moderate, or severe intolerance. Your pet’s results will be a list including your pet’s mild, moderate, and severe intolerances.
Then, you have to go through the masterlist of items and cross off the moderate or severe intolerances. What’s left on the masterlist are the foods that do not trigger an intolerance reaction in your pet, at that time. These are the foods/ingredients that your pet SHOULD eat.
After eating ONLY the foods on the master list for a few weeks, you can then re-introduce one food at a time from your list of “suspects” – the items categorized as moderate or severe intolerances.
If you notice a recurrence of symptoms, remove that item from your pet’s diet. If not, continue to include it in moderate amounts. Testing can be repeated as frequently as every three months to base your pet’s diet on your most up to date results.
Is 5Strands accurate?
The accuracy of intolerance tests are difficult to calculate. To accurately conduct these types of studies, pet owners would have to adhere to strict elimination diets for periods of weeks to months, as well as carefully monitor their pets for “cheating”. Due to these complicating factors, those studies have not been completed.
When it comes to understanding 5Strands accuracy, there are two general things to know:
Negative results are accurate and reliable. In other words, having a NEGATIVE result, but actually being intolerant, is highly unlikely. This is why 5Strands recommends eating only foods your pet has a negative result for as the elimination diet.
Allergy/intolerance tests tend to have high false-positive rates though, up to 50%. This would mean having a POSITIVE result, but actually having no reactivity to the substance. That’s why it’s ok to try some of the foods again in a couple of months.
Does 5Strands have a pet allergy test?
No. 5Strands does not test for allergies.
Past issues with confusing marketing are still evident in some places, including retailer descriptions from third-party vendors. As the science and the company evolved, the company re-branded as “Affordable Testing”. It also got clear on the message that it tests for intolerances, not allergies.
What’s the difference between allergies and intolerances?
Nutritional Imbalance – indicates which vitamins, minerals, and amino acids the body may not be absorbing properly
Metals and Minerals Imbalances – shows how well your body can process and eliminate these items
Pet food Intolerances – key proteins, grains, fruits, vegetables, preservatives, synthetic additives, and more.
Environmental Intolerances – cleaning materials, fabrics, pollen, trees, grasses, chemicals, fleas, and more.
Plus, 5Strands also offers a separate Blue-Green Algae test for your water. This is invaluable if you want a fast way to test water quality and make sure it is safe for your pets.
Another factor that makes 5Strands particularly good value, is that the test kit includes environmental factors in addition to pet food ingredients. This will give you a more comprehensive idea of your pet’s potential triggers compared to kits that test fewer items.
Plus, the 5Strands Pet Food Intolerance Test Kit costs less than an average visit to the vet. So, if you can take this test, interpret the results, and apply the information yourself, you’ll save a lot of money.
Which animals do 5Strands test?
One of the impressive things about 5Strands is the variety of species tested. 5Strands tests:
5Strands vs. Embark – which is better?
The better company when comparing 5Strands vs. Embark is difficult to answer. Mostly because each company focuses on something different. So, the right choice for you comes down to what kind of pet you have, and what you want to find out about your pet.
If your pet is having intolerance symptoms (hot spots, hair loss, chewing on paws, joint pain, gas, diarrhea, runny nose), go with 5Strands.
I'm Sara Turner and I've pursued my lifelong passion for learning through many adventures, including getting my Ph.D. in Biomedical Science. My husband, my three young sons, and I enjoy traveling and exploring new places outdoors. I love the sunshine, the beach and new ideas!
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1 User Review
Tons of data and great support
I was floored by the amount of feedback provided in this test, and deeply appreciate the bioresonance testing method. I learned a lot about myself, but also confirmed many suspicions. Looking forward to implementing more guidance from the results and resolving some pesky discomforts.