Long Island, NY
Current health: Ben Ahrens is a TEDx speaker, chronic illness recovery expert, and co-founder of re-orgin.com, a brain retraining program and community. Ben has spent the last two decades as a neuroscience researcher in the health and medical field and worked alongside cutting-edge doctors and neuroscientists to decode chronic Lyme and other complex chronic conditions. He holds advanced certifications in biological medicine and is an AADP Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner in New York. Below, he shares his story.
In my early twenties, I was the picture of perfect health. I was a semi-professional surfer, worked as a personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist, and ran a summer water sports camp.
Then, at age 25, everything changed when my legs suddenly went numb at a surf competition. I immediately started having strange physical symptoms. My muscles were locking up, my joints were stiff, and my whole body was inexplicably fatigued. Initially, I attributed these symptoms to excessive training for the surf competition, but after the event was over, they didn’t go away. I noticed whenever I felt stressed, the strange joint pain, headaches, and fatigue would reemerge. Then came the cognitive symptoms. My brain fog and confusion were so bad that, at one point, I couldn’t remember what my shoes were for. Eventually, I became bedridden for three years.
After countless doctors’ appointments, emergency room visits, and extensive laboratory work, I was diagnosed with chronic neurological Lyme Disease, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and hypersensitivity disorder. The diagnosis was bittersweet. On the one hand, I was finally relieved to have a diagnosis, but that quickly faded when I learned there wasn’t a clear treatment path.
My healing journey started with antibiotics, but they only provided temporary relief. Like many chronic Lyme disease patients, the disease had likely been residing in my body for quite some time. In search of something more permanent, I turned to biological medicine. I changed my diet and took supplements to detoxify my body. I tried everything from wheatgrass enemas to crystal bed therapy. You name it, and I probably tried it. While some interventions seemed to help, ultimately, it still felt like I was bumping up against a glass ceiling, and it was never clear why.
As many of us do in this situation, I became my own advocate. I studied the brain and took online courses in physiology and neuroscience, focusing on how the brain and nervous system regulate every aspect of our bodies, including all organs, cells, and systems.
During this time, I learned about the allostatic load and how chronic stress strains our bodies. In this scenario, if the allostatic stress load is already high from exposure to chronic stress and we experience an acute injury, trauma, or bacterial infection, the high-stress couples together with the immune response to form what is known as conditioned immune suppression. This leads to the development of unproductive and conditioned patterns in our brains that continue to inappropriately stimulate our immune system and nervous system as if a threat were still present even though it has long passed. The ongoing stimulation of the immune and nervous systems can result in persistent symptoms. The more I learned about this process, the more it resonated with my experience.
I remember a doctor telling me that no medicine, pharmaceutical, or supplement will ever be as powerful as our body’s own immune system. These words gave me hope that it’s possible to strengthen the immune system by calming the body’s stress response.
In 2015 I had the opportunity to deliver a TEDx talk where I shared my personal journey of healing and recovery. I discussed how neuroplasticity (brain retraining) techniques helped reset my stress response and repair my body.
Since my recovery, I’ve dedicated myself to sharing the benefits of self-directed neuroplasticity by assembling a team of Ph.D. neuroscientists and clinical psychologists who helped me develop a science-based brain retraining program. The program, called re-origin®, has been specifically designed to help people who suffer from chronic conditions such as Lyme disease.
To learn more about our science-based brain retraining program, people can visit re-origin.com or check out YouTube at @re_origin and Instagram at @reorigin_official for regular tips.