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Rod of Asclepius (Fiery Serpent on a pole)

                            Fig1: Rod of Asclepius

The rod of Asclepius takes its name from a greek God Asclepius who is associated with healing and medical art. Looking closely, you notice most medical organizations uses it as a symbol. It is sometimes confused for caduceus which some medical organisations also use in North America.

Fig 2: caduceus

The staff all have their greek history but according to philosophy, I learnt the oldest book in the world is the Bible. So whatever mythology associating a fiery snake upon a pole should be a copy cat.

In the Bible, referenced Numbers 21:8-9, Moses a servent of God who was tasked with taking the Isrealite out of Egypt the land they were held captive, to their promised land. On their journey, guess God wanted to teach them faith (read Num 21:4ff for details) so they were inflicted by a fiery serpent that claimed the lives of many. They needed a doctor or a clinic or a medicine to save them from the serpent's venom, so Moses was tasked by the people to pray for a solution. Then God gave a symbol that looked like the rod of Asclepius. All they needed was to behold this rod and they would be save from the serpent venom.

This to me completely depict the discover of medicine. It sounded ridiculous but that was the cure to the snake bite. This also reminds me of the first successful vaccine every manufactured, small pox vaccine. It was made by Edward Jenner in 1796 who observered that milkmaid who had cowpox later don't get infected by small pox and smallpox had almost claimed the lives of about 10% of his population. He did the ridiculous by proferring cowpox as a vaccine for smallpox. Now it's left for those who can believe in his research to get infected by cowpox.

One very interesting research just came to my desk. It is perheps the best thing that ever happened to me last week. It's the discovery that melittin could be a possible cure for HIV/AIDS. Melittin is got from bee venom. Traditional medicine uses bee venom therapy in treating pains, inflammatory disease and cancer. The non specific toxicity of melittin has limitted its clinical applications.  While melittin has been studied in in vitro and animal models for the treatment of inflammation and cancer, human efficacy data is lacking.

Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered bee venom can kill the HIV virus without harming the body. Bees could hold the key to preventing HIV transmission. Researchers have discovered that bee venom kills the virus while leaving body cells unharmed, which could lead to an anti-HIV vaginal gel and other treatments... Read More:

The rod of Asclepius conotes faith in medicine. Funny as it may sound, I've seen someone who believes in taking water as a cure to malaria. I can't explain the science behind it but it heals him. If you follow the link above, you'll discover they are no clinical trails yet, but a promise. Melittin is a peptide an amino-acid that rings a bell in the discovery of HIV retroviral drugs.


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