Facts about the Rod of Asclepius


The Rod of Asclepius is a staff assocaiated with healing and medicine, Asclepius is a Greek god. It is also known as the staff of Asclepius. Theories have been proposed about the Greek origin of the symbol and its implications. Is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius.

The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care, yet frequently confused with the staff of the god Hermes, the caduceus.

Asclepius was the son of Apollo who was one of the original inventors of the art of healing humans, and that started one the most influential healing cults of all time that had first originated in ancient Greece and Crete. Asclepius was a skilled physician who practised in Greece around 1200BC . Through myth and legend he came to be worshipped as Asclepius, the Greek god of Healing.

Photo: The Greek god of healing

Asclepius is the correct and traditional symbol of medicine that used by most medical Association worldwide such as World Health Organization (WHO) and others

Asclepius is the god of Healing. He is the son of Apollo and the nymph Coronis. Apollo is a god of healing, truth, and prophecy. The Rod of Asclepius, is only the true symbol of medicine also denotes an ancient emblem of healing power that is still used today.

The Rod of Asclepius became popular and very important in Greek society. Patients believed they could be cured by sleeping in them. They would visit, offering gifts and sacrifices to the god, and be treated by priest healers also known as the Asclepiadae. The worship of Asclepius spread to Rome and continued as late as the sixth century.

The symbol represent the physician’s art of healing because of its combination of the staff, which is symbolic of authority and the snake. The serpent or snake denotes rebirth, fertility, revitalization and rejuvenation. The snake venom has been found to be fatally poisonous and, at the same time, have medicinal properties.


Many theories describes on how the staff and serpent came to be connected to medicine. The following are two theories describing the staff.

1. Biblical theory
During that time, Moses carry a bronze staff that had serpent wrapped around it. If any Israelite was bitten by a venomous snake, they only had to look at the snake on the staff to be cured.

2. Worm theory
It is originated from Ebers papyrus, the first ancient Egyptian medical treaties during 1500 BCE. This theory denotes a treatment for parasitic worms that involved cutting into a person and slowly pulling out the worm over time and wrapping it around a stick. Healers of the time would advertise their services by hanging a sign picturing a stick with a worm wound around it.

Photo: The Greece Asclepius statue

Many health organization, medical institutes and hospitals uses this symbol worldwide. Examples of organization includes World Health Organization (WHO), Medical council of New zeland, Medical corps of America, American Medical Association.

Therefore, the serpent is also seen as symbolic of the dual nature of a physician’s work that involved sickness & health, life & death. It even signifies the dual powers of medicine – the dosage and the situation determine if it will heal or harm. The symbol was displayed at the Temples of Asclepius that became popular healing centers of the Greco-Roman world. Later on, it came to be adopted by doctors all over the world.

Posted by: Lusubilo A. Mwaijengo

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