The human digestive system is pretty complex. A series of organs and glands, the digestive system processes the food we eat, turning it into smaller molecules to fuel our body as well as releasing the components we can’t use as waste. Digestion begins in the mouth. As soon as food enters our mouth, we chew it. Chewing the food helps to break it down not just by the act of mastication but also by the saliva that our mouth generates. Salivary enzymes turn starches into smaller molecules making them easier to travel through the esophagus, which is the next stop.
The esophagus, a long tube extending from the mouth to the stomach, uses rhythmic, wave-like movements, aka peristalsis, to move the food down the tube into the stomach. The epiglottis, a small flap of tissue at the base of the throat, keeps food from going down your windpipe, ensuring it takes the direct (and proper) trip to the stomach.
After the food moves through the esophagus, which takes about three or four seconds usually, it lands in the stomach. A J-shaped stack of stretchy material, the stomach has three main jobs: to store the food you’ve eaten, break that food down into liquid and empty said liquid into the small intestine. Think of the stomach like a big washing machine or blender that uses a powerful mixing agent (gastric acid). It churns and twirls up all the items in the sack, separating the items your body can use from those it can’t. The gastric acid also helps to eliminate bacteria from the food so that you don’t get sick from what you’ve eaten.
Although it’s called the small intestine, this coiled tube is more than 20 feet long. The duodenum, or the opening of the small intestine, takes the items from the stomach and sends them through. Bile is produced in this part of the body. Bile is an enzyme created in the liver (and stored in the gall bladder) that further breaks down food where it is then made ready to enter the large intestine. There, some of the water and electrolytes are removed from the food. Certain microbes and healthy bacteria (yes – there is such a thing) help to digest the food. The digestible items are then sent to the body via the ascending colon and do their thing while the waste products wait to be excreted through the rectum via the anus.
Occasionally muscle relaxers just travel through the digestive system to get to the body part they need to work their magic on. However, in the case of certain digestive system disorders such as Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndome (IBS), muscle relaxers may indeed provide the patient with some relief. Of course, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before you self-medicate. Do not attempt to try to use a muscle relaxant to treat your digestive problems if have been prescribed it for something else.
Disclaimer: Remember, the information in these articles is for your information only. It is not intended as medical suggestion or advice. Questions should be referred to your doctor or any other qualified medical professional.