Head and Neck

The head and neck have quite a few muscles that assist with everyday processes.

The neck has a variety of muscles in the posterior and anterior portions.  The posterior neck has four pairs of suboccipitals that rotate and flex the head.  The sternocleidomastoid muscle originates on the anterior portion of the body and inserts into the back of the head.  It flexes and rotates the neck.  There’s a bone in the anterior portion of the neck called the hyoid bone, which assists with swallowing.  The suprahyoid, infrahyoid, and retrohyoid attach to the hyoid bone and elevate or depress the bone during swallowing.  The scalenes in front of the neck, flex and rotate the neck.

The face consists of various muscles that move the face and help with eating.  The masseter, on the cheek, closes the jaw and is the strongest muscle in males and second strongest in females (the uterus is the strongest muscle in females).  The temporalis, on the side of the head, elevates the jaw.  The lateral pterygoid, in the cheek, opens the mouth.  While the medial pterygoid, also in the cheek, closes the mouth.  The buccinator, on the sides of the mouth, compresses the cheek.  The zygomaticus, diagonally from mouth to cheek, elevates mouth to create a smile.  The orbicularis oris, around the mouth, closes the lips.  The obicularis oculi, is a circle around each eye, closes the eye.  The frontalis, on the forehead, raises the eyebrows.



The tongue has four intrinsic muscles, the superior and inferior longitudinal muscles, the transverse muscle, and the vertical muscle.  The genioglossus, under the tongue, helps to stick out the tongue.  The styloglossus, under the jaw near the ear, retracts and elevates the tongue.  The hypoglossus brings the tongue back down.  The palatoglossus pulls the tongue up to the back of the throat.


There are muscles throughout the ear to help information travel to the brain.  There are five different muscles that help with eye movement.  The procerus, above the nose, wrinkles the nose.  The nasalis, on the nose, flares the nostrils.

Respiratory System

The respiratory system provides oxygen for the body to live and thrive.  When we inhale we take oxygen in through our nose or mouth.  Some pathogens or toxins are filtered out through the nose.  It travels down through the trachea to the lungs.  The oxygen moves through the bronchi tubes within the lungs until it reaches the alveoli, small sacs, where the oxygen is transported into the blood vessels and is carried to the heart.  As we exhale the carbon dioxide in our system is expelled out of our body.

The lungs are found behind the rib cage in the chest.  They are broken down into three sections on the right, upper, mid, and lower.  The left side only has two sections due to the space required for the heart.  The diaphragm is a muscle that’s attached underneath the lungs.  When it contracts air is drawn into the lungs and when it extends the air is released.


Aromatherapy and herbs can be beneficial to the respiratory system.


Digestive System

The digestive system processes the food and is also known as the alimentary canal or gastrointestinal tract (GI tract).  Digestion of food starts with the mouth.  The tongue and teeth mechanically break down food with the help of enzymes.  The amylase, digestive enzyme, in the mouth breaks down mostly carbohydrates.  When the food is swallowed it goes down the esophagus to the stomach.

In the stomach, hydrochloric acid continues to break down the food, especially any protein.  As the food leaves the stomach, it’s called chyme.  It’s then transported into the small intestines where most of the nutrient absorption occurs.

In the small intestines, bile from the gall bladder and lipase from the pancreas digest the fats.  Amylase from the pancreas digests the rest of the carbohydrates.  And, trypsin from the pancreas further digests proteins.  The food goes from being some sort of solid substance before it enters the mouth to a smoothie consistency in the small intestines.  The nutrients are absorbed and go to the liver for filtration and distribution.

The last part of the journey is through the large intestines, also known as the colon.  The main function of the colon is to reabsorb water and electrolytes.  Once the liquid has been removed it moves down into the rectum and is excreted through the anus.


Aromatherapy can help the digestive system.  There are also herbs for the stomach, small intestines, colon, and liver.