Ayble Health unveils mind-gut program with behavioral therapy techniques to ease GI symptoms

Ayble Health, a digital health platform focused on chronic gastrointestinal conditions, has unveiled a mind-gut program.

The program, which runs up to 15 weeks, guides users through skill-building exercises aimed at retraining the connection between the mind and gut to ease GI symptoms and improve quality of life. The app is available direct-to-consumer and through undisclosed employers and health plans.

Ayble employs board-certified health coaches, supervised by dietitians and psychologists, to provide comprehensive, personalized dietary treatment plans and coaching. The latest program integrates with Ayble’s baseline nutrition program and offers evidence-based brain-gut behavioral therapy techniques including cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and gut-directed hypnosis. 

These, alongside meditation, skill-building exercises and more, work to retrain the brain-gut connection and reduce GI symptoms, Ayble claims.

“The mind and the gut are connected. It’s a two-lane highway,” CEO Sam Jactel told Fierce Healthcare.

Research data show that mental health is linked to the gut. While stress can exacerbate gut inflammation and GI symptoms, that can in turn precipitate mental health conditions. A recent study looking at irritable bowel syndrome patients found more than a third had anxiety and more than a quarter had depression.

GI psychologists can play a crucial role in addressing this bidirectional connection. They use evidence-based therapeutic techniques with patients that can lead to notable improvements in GI symptoms. Yet there is a dire shortage of GI-specialized mental health practitioners, Jactel said. In the face of limited access, Ayble’s mind-gut program aims to fill that gap.

“I think of GI conditions as ‘and’ conditions rather than ‘or’ conditions,” Jactel said. “Our goal, always, is to have Ayble be seen as an extension of a care team, as a complement to what is already happening.” 

The program was developed alongside experts in behavioral health. 

“I’m proud to have played a role in developing Ayble’s Mind-Gut program. We designed it to be closely aligned with the treatment a patient would normally get with a GI psychologist,” Tiffany Taft, chief psychologist at Oak Park Behavioral Medicine and Ayble adviser, said in a press release. “Rather than focusing on one specific brain-gut behavioral therapy approach, the app offers a variety of strategies that tend to be most effective with patients in real-world clinical practice.” 

Stephen Lupe, clinical health psychologist and director of behavioral medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, also helped develop the program as an adviser. 

“The integration of Ayble’s Mind-Gut program with the existing diet program will bridge a massive gap that exists between integrated dietary and mental health care that is critical for a holistic approach to help those living with chronic digestive conditions,” he said in the announcement.

Ayble, founded in 2020, has published 14 studies to date, including a series of randomized controlled trials. Its goal is to keep advancing science and partnering with academia, which can make best practices more personalized and widely accessible. The sector could benefit from more collaborations such as this one, he added.

“Healthcare is not a place where you move fast and break things, which is the ethos of startups sometimes,” Jactel said. 

According to published research, 78% of participants had clinically significant symptom improvement halfway through a nine-week Ayble program, and 62% saw improvement at the end. A quarter of participants saw total symptomatic resolution by the end of the study. Patient-reported quality of life improved for 89% of participants.