The health benefits from using activated charcoal can be quite useful, even lifesaving in the case of ingested poisons (including recreational drug overdose). In fairness, causing oneself to throw up (or have diarrhea) often has health benefits, too, when weighing what was eaten versus what is lost and what digestive tract damage is endured. However, the DSM-5 has chosen (I think correctly) to include binging and purging to be a mental health problem. It’s debatable whether this is always the case, and whether or not the negative psychological effects and causes being masked in so doing a purge are truly traumatic, but it should be a case by case consideration to determine if it is bad or not.
Amidst these established disorders a new phenomenon is emerging due to the convergence of increasing popularity of activated charcoal (touted among others by bulletproof diet creator Dave Asprey) and more awareness of how awful most of the food westerner western hemisphereans (North Americans) are marketed is. Instead of giving up all the food all at once, some health conscious people will opt to eat the food occasionally and many of these will do it in great quantities constituting a binge. The cycle will develop (has developed) for them that goes from strict eating of healthy foods, to all out sugar greasy garbage, back to healthy foods, back to garbage, paralleling (if not corresponding with) the surge-depletion-surge-depletion pattern in cranial dopamine levels that are terribly unbalanced. Activated charcoal can facilitate to prolong this destructive pattern, as it will preserve much of the health of a person who has recently binged, but will build itself in as a new dependency. There are worse shackles to wear around for sure, worse insurance policies like aspirin dependency or xanax dependency, to name a few. Is activated charcoal qualitatively different and truly a good thing that should be taken to erase impulsive decisions? The “activated charcoal” for other realms of life—where impulsivity is causing sorrow—will surely be sought after, but to no avail. It is a slippery slope to suddenly hiring the mafia to take care of your relationship problems, of going to the state to police your neighbor’s landscaping deviance rather than talking to her sans government. Yes, activated charcoal is an intermediary that keeps us from liberating ourselves, and it is acutely keeping people in an unhealthy relationship to food, if not absorbing unhealthy food.
Perhaps DSM-6 will include adsorbing purges as a criteria for binge eating disorders?