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Meet Dr. Mark Merriwether Vorderbruggen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Mark Merriwether Vorderbruggen.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born and raised in Minnesota by parents with two passions…the outdoors and serving others. Being gifted in science, I ended up focusing on chemistry, in particular the chemicals produced by plants. This love of plant chemistry helped me get a master’s in medicinal chemistry and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry with the goal to become a pharmaceutical chemist. However, Houston’s petroleum industry was looking for a person like me to develop environmentally friendlier ways to supply the nation with oil and gas.

But at the same time, I was doing that I had a side hustle going on teaching people all over Texas how to identify and use all the edible and medicinal plants around them! This side hustle led to writing and co-authoring books such as “Idiot’s Guide Foraging”, “Brewing Local”, and the soon-to-be-released “Outdoors Adventure Guide Foraging”; countless magazine articles and podcast interviews; and 15 patents.

In January of 2020, the opportunity of a lifetime came up to finally serve people the way I had always planned on serving others…I joined Medicine Man Plant Co. as the herbalist/scientist in charge of product formulations. I get to use both my chemistry side and my traditional herbalist to create scientifically supported mixes of ancient plants and mushrooms to help people on a daily basis!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It was a very long road with many walls…but looking back, I see the skills I developed to get over those walls were exactly the skills I needed to have as a medicine man. 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. In the early days, it really felt that God was doing the talking and I was just his dummy…but each class built my skill and now I enjoy giving presentations in front of hundreds of people!

Another struggle was finding the right family/work ratio…and honestly, I think I failed there. My desire to share this knowledge with the world cut into evenings and weekends with my wife and two daughters. They are both teenagers and the older leaves for college several states away this fall. I’d give dang near anything to have more time with both of them. It took me a while to realize, but the dopamine rush I got from teaching people became some sort of self-supplied addiction. The saying “be careful what you wish for” is true even when the wish of helping people seems like a good wish.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m currently the chemist & traditional herbalist for Medicine Man Plant Co., applying my training in chemistry and plant molecules to harness the medicinal plants of our ancestors to help with modern, lifestyle health issues. I’m also an author of multiple books and magazine articles, have 15 patents, and am an internationally recognized expert in edible and medicinal wild plants. Basically, I’m a scientific caveman!

How do you think about happiness?
Two things make me ecstatic:

1. My daughters saying, “Hey dad, this food you made is really good”.
2. Opening people’s eyes to the wonders of nature that surround them, thereby making their lives better.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Medicine Man Plant Co.

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