Shawn Hamilton, MD
Internists located in Irvine, CA
Shawn Hamilton, MD, an internal medicine specialist in Irvine, California, works diligently to understand your symptoms, as well as your medical and family history, in order to get to the root of your health concerns. Dr. Hamilton's focus is on disease prevention and lifestyle modification with a goal of empowering and supporting you with the medical care and resources you need to break free from anything that is keeping you from achieving true wellness. Call the office or schedule an appointment online for more information.
Functional Medicine Q & A
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is an approach to health care that conceptualizes health and illness as part of a continuum in which all components of the human biological system interact dynamically with the environment, producing patterns and effects that change over time. Functional Medicine helps clinicians identify and ameliorate dysfunctions in the physiology and biochemistry of the human body as a primary method of improving patient health. Functional Medicine is often described as the clinical application of systems biology.
Chronic disease is almost always preceded by a period of declining function in one or more of the body’s systems. Restoring health requires reversing (or substantially improving) the specific dysfunctions that have contributed to the disease state. Each patient represents a unique, complex, and interwoven set of environmental and lifestyle influences on intrinsic functionality (their genetic vulnerabilities) that have set the stage for the development of disease or the maintenance of health.
To manage the complexity inherent in this approach, IFM has created practical models for obtaining and evaluating clinical information that leads to individualized, patient-centered therapies. Functional Medicine concepts, practices, and tools have evolved considerably over a thirty-year period, reflecting the dramatic growth in the evidence base concerning the key common pathways to disease (e.g., inflammation, GI dysfunction, oxidative stress); the role of diet, stress, and physical activity; the emerging sciences of genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics; and the effects of environmental degradation (air, water, soil) on health.
Elements of Functional Medicine
The knowledge base—or “footprint”—of Functional Medicine is shaped by seven core principles:
- Acknowledging the biochemical individuality of each human being, based on concepts of genetic and environmental uniqueness
- Incorporating a patient-centered rather than a disease-centered approach to treatment
- Seeking a dynamic balance among the internal and external factors in a patient’s body, mind, and spirit
- Addressing the web-like interconnections of internal physiological factors
- Identifying health as a positive vitality—not merely the absence of disease—and emphasizing those factors that encourage a vigorous physiology
- Promoting organ reserve as a means of enhancing the health span, not just the life span, of each patient
- Functional Medicine is a science-using profession
To assist clinicians in understanding and applying Functional Medicine, IFM has created a highly innovative way of representing the patient’s signs, symptoms, and common pathways of disease. Adapting, organizing, and integrating into the Functional Medicine Matrix the seven biological systems in which core clinical imbalances are found actually creates an intellectual bridge between the rich basic science literature concerning physiological mechanisms of disease (first two years of medical training) and the clinical studies, clinical experience, and clinical diagnoses of the second two years of medical training. These core clinical imbalances serve to marry the mechanisms of disease with the manifestations and diagnoses of disease.
- Assimilation: digestion, absorption, microbiota/GI, respiration
- Defense and repair: immune, inflammation, infection/microbiota
- Energy: energy regulation, mitochondrial function
- Biotransformation and elimination: toxicity, detoxification
- Transport: cardiovascular and lymphatic systems
- Communication: endocrine, neurotransmitters, immune messengers
- Structural integrity: subcellular membranes to musculoskeletal integrity
Using this construct, it is possible to see that one disease/condition may have multiple causes (i.e., multiple clinical imbalances), just as one fundamental imbalance may be at the root of many seemingly seperate conditions.