The snakes of Caduceus

in STEMGeeks9 months ago

For as long as I can remember I have wondered why the symbol of modern medicine (also known as the Caduceus) has two snakes on it. I mean, I felt that derogatory - after all, we call people snakes never in a good way. Add to that the rising hate against doctors in Bangladesh, that makes up for fantastic meme material for the anti-doctors (I don't have a better term for it).

I may finally have a logical answer that I am willing to say makes sense. Not only does it make sense, it shows the depth of understanding people had about medicine thousands of years ago, dating back to the Mesopotamian age - all without access to technology of any kind!

I was reading an article on Healthcare in Ancient Mesopotamia that Dada gave me last night. That gave me the insight as to what the serpents stood for, and the thought behind it was ingenious!


Image created using Midjourney AI

Almost every mythological legends and stories involve something to do with Gods and Goddesses. Whether you believe them or not is not the point of this post - that's a disclaimer!

The healthcare sector was watched upon by a "goddess" named Gula. Her son Ninazu, (meaning Lord healer) was the one who was associated with serpents. The reason being he was the one who helped people to either recover or pass on to the afterlife. Here the thought behind association with snake was snakes shed their skin and regenerate new skin after a specific time. And healing and recovery was "thought" to be exactly that - shedding of old, "hurt" materials and regeneration of new health.

I say "thought" in air quotes because in the Mesopotamian era, there surely could not have been ways for them to actually verify this bit. But in our modern era, we now "know" this to be a fact. A lot of recover from disease involves regeneration of new cells to replace old damaged cells. Thousands of research is being conducted at this very moment on stem-cell transplantation in different diseases to do specifically that - regenerate new cells to aid healing.

In fact, this "shedding of the skin" happens in our body even in health on a daily basis. There are celss called "epithelial cells" that lines the cavities/tubes inside our body. The gastrointestinal tract for example is a long hollow tube, twisted and turned to fit about 21 feet at least (this is by no means an accurate number - the small intestines alone is almost 21 feet twisted) inside our body. The entirety of this cavity/hollow tube is lined with specialized epithelial cells. There are innumerable other cells in different layers of the Gastrointestinal tract too. Look at it this way - think of a thick water pipe made of plastic. There are a lot of plastic material (read "cells") that makes up the whole length of the pipe. The plastic ("cells") that lines the innermost layer, i.e. the layer that is in direct contact with the flowing water are the "epithelial cells."

Obviously the layer that is in direct contact with the rushing water, in case of our gastrointestinal tract - food and gastric juices, is the layer that is under the most stress. Which is why the cells of this layer needs to be constantly "shed" and replaced by new cells - regeneration. So much cells needs to be shed everyday that, a significant proportion of the feces we pass out everyday is actually made up of these epithelial cells.

This is just one example. Hundreds of thousands of cells keep getting "shed" and regenerated like a snake sheds its skin in our body every single day.

The next time you call someone a snake, know that deep down inside (quite literally) we are all a little bit of a snake!


Interesting! According to Wikipedia, the correct symbol for medicine is the Rod of Asclepius, which has only one snake and no wings. But the tradition of using Caduceus is well established though.

Yes you are correct. The Caduceus has been used more widely and that is the one used at our med school too. When it comes to engravings on stethoscopes or other medical instruments, or to be used as a brooch on the white apron, The Caduceus is the universal choice among doctors and med students.

House Slytherin for the win! :")
Harry Potter and Dumbledore will cry in their graves at your last remark doc! XD

Damn that's some correlation you got going there 😂 Old Voldy be like


As a proud Slytherin, I must talk about my house whenever I can. Gotta clear our name from all the filth Voldy caused :v

Interesting associations that you brought


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 9 months ago Reveal Comment