Why are snakes used as the symbol of medicine?

Symbol of Medicine

The emblem of medicine is often pictured as a staff with a snake, or serpent, coiled around it.

In the earliest days, the art of healing was practiced with much superstition and magic.

The serpent was sacred to the ancient Greek as the symbol of health.  It was supposed to have great healing powers, since it could shed its skin and appear young again.

This tells us why, in art, we usually see Aesculapius (pronounced es kyoo LAY pee us), ancient Greek god of medicine, holding a club like staff with a large serpent coiled around it.

The staff and serpent is used as the symbol of medicine today.  In the United States, we sometimes see a winged staff with two serpents coiled around it as the medical emblem.

But this staff, called a caduceus, is really the magic wand of Mercury, the swift messenger of the gods in Roman mythology.

Aesculapius’ staff with it single serpent is the true symbol of medicine.



  1. Alex

    This symbol predates the Greek mythology, was used in ancient Egypt and originated out Sumerian where it was the symbol of their gods. Representing life and longevity the 3rd DNA double helix is clearly defined to anyone with some common sense…makes you wonder ho much knowledge was lost through thousands of years.

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