How To Do Breath Testing Properly

Here at Healthpath, we’re proud to offer evidence-based advice. However, we’re aware that science can seem a bit impenetrable and dry. Boring, even.

We also believe that education is the first step to regain control. We read a lot of scientific papers, so we thought it would be a good idea to create a digest (no pun intended) of some of the key research.

We hope these plain-English versions bring the science to life and—even more importantly—help you address your symptoms for good.


“Hydrogen and Methane-Based Breath Testing in Gastrointestinal Disorders: The North American Consensus”


What’s the title in plain English?

A report on the best way to use breath testing in clinic


What did they do?

Breath testing is a clinical tool used for common digestive conditions such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

This paper discusses the outcome of a meeting between experts, who came together to discuss some of the issues with the breath testing use in clinical practice. Their aim was to provide practitioners with guidelines on evidence-based practices.


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What are the take-home points from the study?

1. Breath testing is a useful non-invasive tool for people with SIBO, people who don’t digest carbohydrates properly, and people with unexplained IBS-like symptoms including gas, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation.

2. Currently, breath testing is performed using various sugary solutions. A consensus on doses and testing timings for these solutions was agreed on based on best practice testing outcomes.

3. An agreement was reached on 26 agenda points, providing practical guidance to practitioners. The main areas addressed included when to use breath testing, preparation advice for the patient prior to testing, and interpretation of breath testing.


The Healthpath view

Breath testing is an inexpensive and useful diagnostic tool for digestive disorders. This paper presents an evidence-based approach for its application in clinical practice.

Read the full published study here.

Tegan Philp BA PgDip MSc is a Registered Nutritional Therapist. Passionate about all things gut-related, her master’s dissertation was on the role of the microbiome in cardiovascular outcomes. Tegan has over eight years’ experience working for leading nutrition colleges in both Australia and the UK. You can learn more about Tegan on her practitioner page or connect with her via LinkedIn.


Ref: Rao, S., Schmulson, M., Valdovinos, M., Zakko, S., Pimentel, M. and Frcp, C., 2017. Hydrogen and Methane-Based Breath Testing in Gastrointestinal Disorders : The North American Consensus. Nature Publishing Group, [online] 112(5), pp.775–784. Available at: <>.

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