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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Wild Medicine: Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen, Ph.D., of Medicine Man Plant Co., Is a Modern Day Shaman and Noted Expert in Identifying and Using Medicinal Plants

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Dr. Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen of Texas-based Medicine Man Plant Co. has been awarded the title of Medicinal Plants Expert by Plant-Based Health News.

The company is a fast-growing and innovative provider of organic and plant-based. nutritional supplements based on traditional folk medicine. Vorderbruggen is the company’s herbalist/scientist in charge of product formulations – and is also its “Medicine Man,” advocating for the use of long-used natural remedies to treat modern lifestyle-based ailments. Vorderbruggen’s approach has won recent acclaim in healthcare circles, winning supplement product awards from NewsHealthwatch and HisHealthMag Corp and receiving the Health11News Consumer Quality Award.

Wild Medicine: Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen, Ph.D., of Medicine Man Plant Co., Is a Modern Day Shaman and Noted Expert in Identifying and Using Medicinal Plants is an original (PlantBasedHealthNews) article.

Mark Vorderbruggen first became acquainted with wild medicine as a small boy growing up in Minnesota, and he has been foraging for edible and medicinal plants ever since. Exploring local woods, fields, and lakes with his family, young Mark learned to appreciate his natural surroundings in a way few modern children have an opportunity to do.

“As early as I can remember,” he says, “my parents would take us for walks in the wilds every day, and while out there they’d tell us how their parents and grandparents would use the plants we saw…food, medicine, fire-making, natural cordage, etc. They infused us with a sense of wonder about nature.”

Both his parents’ families foraged for food to survive during the Great Depression, and they passed this knowledge down to their son. Knowing how to harvest nature’s free food helped feed him and his family through the poverty years of his childhood.

Mark’s sense of wonder about nature grew into a love of science, and soon led him to what would be his lifelong vocation.

“By the time I entered kindergarten, I already knew I wanted to be a scientist.” In school, he discovered that he had a gift for chemistry, and studied the subject in college, still foraging for food during his lean years studying professional chemistry. He continued to learn about wild medicine too, gathering wild plants and mushrooms as he learned about plant chemistry.

His plan was to make medicine as a pharmaceutical chemist, which led to getting a master’s in medicinal chemistry and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, one of the best-known technical universities in the U.S.

pharmaceutical chemist

Now known as Dr. Vorderbruggen, hebegan to apply his skills to modern technology, and

found work as an industrial research chemist in the oil industry, using his knowledge of natural products to develop environmentally friendly replacements for traditional oil field chemicals.

Early on, he earned a patent for developing cinnamon as a corrosion inhibitor to protect steel. Fifteen more patents would follow, including one for a water-based, self-assembling sand coating that mimics oyster shells, to reduce silicosis-causing dust that is a hazard when working with sand.

Still, Dr. Vorderbruggen felt a calling to help people learn about the edible and medicinal wild plants that surrounded them, and he started teaching medicine-making plant workshops. His passion for wild medicine earned him the nickname “Merriwether” from his peers — a name that comes from Merriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition. Merriwether’s evenings and weekends were now spent creating the website Foraging Texas” to help people connect to nature. By 2014, it was one of the internet’s top wild edible / medicinal plant sites. and he was recognized nationally as an expert in wild edible and medicinal plants.

“While working as a professional chemist, in 2008 I also set up a side gig as “Merriwether” to help people learn the edible and medicinal wild plants that surrounded them. This led to teaching in-person classes all over Texas; interviews in magazines, radio, and TV; and all sorts of other media activity.”

Merriwether’s passion for foraging and wildcrafting continues in his wild medicine workshops and foraging classes; daily plant posts on social media; his internet show “Merriwether’s World!,” and monthly foraging articles for CHARM East Texas magazine.

During his 18 years as an industrial chemist, Vorderbruggen also authored numerous articles about wild medicine in research journals. His publications include the acclaimed books Outdoors Adventure Guide: Foraging and Idiot’s Guide: Foraging, along with frequent articles on foraging and wild medicine for a wide variety of magazines.

The road to success has not always been smooth, Merriwether says.  “One of the biggest struggles was overcoming my almost-crippling shyness. I wanted to share how wonder and power of the plants that surround us…but I could barely speak out loud. But each class built my skill, and now I enjoy giving presentations in front of hundreds of people.”

“However, in 2016 the oil market crashed and I was laid off…but then I was immediately picked up by a consumer products company to revamp their line of products to make them safe and natural. While there, I was allowed to dabble in creating a line of herbal-based skin and healthcare products. I was finally making medicine.”

Three years later, Steven Skiff founded Medicine Man Plant Co. and took note of Merriwether’s expertise in wild medicine and his continuing efforts to connect people to their natural surroundings.

“I was reattaching people to nature and the way humans used to live. My medicine-making plant workshops were people’s favorite, where we went out, gathered plants, and turned them into the medicines of our ancestors. Remember that we have been using these plants and mushrooms to maintain our health for thousands of generations.

mushroom supplements

It was then that Skiff recruited Merriwether to become the Medicine Man himself, a modern-day shaman to guide the young company in its mission of “unearthing the ancestral, ancient plants that mankind used for thousands of years and apply them to modernissues.” The new three-person team set out to transform contemporary remedies by returning to treatments that are thousands of years old.

Merriwether is now President of Research and Development for Medicine Man Plant Co., having formulated the award-winning Liver Pill, Brain Pill, and the recently honored Uric Acid Pill to treat gout. Finally, wild medicine is Merriwether’s full-time job.

“Now I spend my days creating herbal formulations based on these plants and mushrooms to give them back to the people. Humans know how to heal themselves if they’re just given a few of the right key ingredients. We evolved with the stuff of nature, so one of the goals of the Medicine Man is to return those healing properties of nature to the tribe.”

Merriwether says many common lifestyle maladies are a result of a modern lack of connection with the natural world — what he sees as a disconnect between nature and modern culture that has serious health ramifications.

“We evolved to use these plants and mushrooms. Turning away from them denies our bodies what it became designed to use. I believe a lot of modern health issues are due to the maladaptation of our ancient bodies to the modern world.”

“The goals of Medicine Man Plant Co. include having people re-think the way they take care of themselves,” he says, “based on how we evolved, rather than what a pharmaceutical infomercial tells them. The three of us are up against the big dogs of modern, money-driven healthcare.”

So far, Medicine Man Plant Co. appears to have the advantage, earning more than one million dollars in its first year of operation. And all indications appear to point to the company’s continued success. The global dietary supplements market is anticipated to reach $340.62 billion by 2030. Increases in lifestyle diseases and other chronic conditions are expected to drive demand for dietary supplements, creating future opportunities for Medicine Man Plant Co. products.

Dietary supplements

More importantly, perhaps – the market’s growth is also due to shifting consumer preferences in medication from pharmaceutical agents to dietary supplements, especially given growing preferences for plant-based and organic goods. Merriwether says of Big Pharma that, “at this point, they are likely more afraid of us than we are of them.”

While Merriwether doesn’t expect consumers to entirely turn away from modern pharmaceuticals, he suggests that wild medicine may make more sense as first-line treatment – in other words, putting nature first, rather than relying solely on conventional medical care.

Of wild medicine, Merriwether says, “There’s almost a magic there. As a scientist, I want to understand the magic.”

Medicine Man products are available to consumers online directly from the manufacturer and via e-commerce outlets.


Plant Based Health News, a digital publication, brings its readers the very latest in plant-based health news.

Important Note: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet, fitness regimen, or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health.

Regarding Nutritional Supplements or Other Non-Prescription Health Products: If any nutritional supplements or other non-prescription health products are mentioned in the foregoing article, any claims or statements made about them have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and such nutritional supplements or other health products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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