- The Medicine Man: Dr. Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen
The Medicine Man: Dr. Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen
"Seek excellence for the service of others."
No tribe survived long without a medicine man. They were responsible for the physical, mental, and even spiritual health of their people, working with them on a deep, daily level. The herbs and mushrooms were only one tool, the others being the advice and guidance, honed since the dawn of time, to lead people to fundamentally healthier actions. A medicine man is more than a nurse or doctor, they are a friend, confident, sounding board, role model, and when necessary, taskmaster who's goal is to help people make themselves better.
Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen, Ph.D. has always walked the path of the medicine man. He grew up in the wilds of Minnesota where his parents and grandparents utilized the amazing wild foods and medicinal plants found in local woods, fields, and lakes. His parents understood the healing powers in nature...whether it be plant, mushroom, or physical interactions. The healing connection with nature that Dr. Vorderbruggen has known since childhood is foundation to who he is today.
Though his first love was always nature, Mark knew he’d be a scientist and focused on medicinal chemistry specializing on the powerful compounds produced by flora, fungi, and even fauna. This led to him getting a BS in professional chemistry from South Dakota State University followed by a MS in medicinal chemistry and a PH.D. in physical organic chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, one of the oldest technical university in the US.
But rather than pursuing medicine directly, Merriwether turned his sights higher. His understanding of natural products empowered his creation of novel (to humans), environmentally friendly chemistries which protected the nature he loves. Among his accomplishment in that are fifteen patents ranging from a cinnamon-based corrosion inhibitor to protect steel to a self-assembling, water-based, sand coating that mimics the shell of oysters to reduce the silicosis-causing dust working with sand can cause.
But during this time as a chemist, husband for over twenty years, and father of two daughters his love of nature also drove him to teach people about the miraculous plants nature has to offer. His passion for wild, useful plants earned him the nickname "Merriwether" from his peers. The name came from Merriweather Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition. Dr. Vorderbruggen's evenings and weekends were spent creating the website Foraging Texas to help people connect to nature and by 2014 he was recognized nationally as an expert in wild edible and medicinal plants.
His passion for foraging and wildcrafting comes across in his foraging classes and medicine making workshops, the daily plant posts on social media, his internet show “Merriwether’s World!”, monthly foraging articles for CHARM East Texas magazine, authoring books such Idiot’s Guide Foraging and Outdoors Adventure Guide Foraging (to be published 2022), along with countless appearances on TV, radio, and interviews across the internet. He extols the benefits of being more in touch (and taste!) with the small bits of wild that were still available.
The winding path of his past has finally led Dr. "Merriwether" to the place where he belongs. With Medicine Man Plant Co., he now has the resources needed to bring the ancestral plants directly to people. His original dream of sharing the healing powers of nature with others has come true!