Education And Debate

Why a pomegranate?

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 04 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1153
  1. Patricia Langley, personal assistant, Secretary's office (
  1. British Medical Association, London WC1H 9JP

    The pomegranate was chosen as the logo for the Millennium Festival of Medicine from a shortlist that included DNA, the human body, and a heart beat. Not only has the pomegranate been revered through the ages for its medicinal properties but it also features in the heraldic crests of several medical institutions involved in the organisation of the festival.

    Summary points

    The pomegranate has been held sacred by many of the world's major religions

    It has been revered through the ages for its medicinal properties

    Preparations of different parts of the plant have been used to treat a variety of conditions

    It features in the coat of arms of several medical associations

    Sacred meanings

    Before its medicinal properties were described the pomegranate was held sacred by many of the world's major religions.

    In the Greek myth of Persephone's abduction by Hades, lord of the underworld, the pomegranate represents life, regeneration, and marriage.1 One day while out gathering flowers, Persephone noticed a narcissus of exquisite beauty. As she bent down to pick it, the earth opened and Hades seized her and dragged her down to his kingdom. By eating a few pomegranate seeds, Persephone tied herself to Hades—the pomegranate being a symbol of the indissolubility of …

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