In the centre of the shield is the Staff of Aesculapius, the god of healing. It is similar to the caduceus, the symbol of Hermes, which is often mistakenly used to advertise medical products. The Staff symbolises that anaesthetists have the status of physicians.
The poppy heads in the centre of the shield represent morphia, and the two plants on the crest of the helmet represent mandrakes, a plant used in the middle ages as an analgesic.
The supporters of the shield are Somnus, the god of sleep, and his son, Morpheus, the god of pleasant dreams. Somnus holds an upside down torch to represent the altered state of life under anaesthesia: diminished but enduring.