The death of an elderly diabetic woman following a slapping therapy workshop is currently being investigated by the police. The death of Danielle Carr-Gomm in a hotel in Wiltshire (UK) is being treated as suspicious, and three people were arrested in connection with the case and later released on bail.

Another case was reported in Australia. A man and woman have been charged with manslaughter following the death of a six-year-old diabetic boy who had attended a 'workshop' in Sydney in April 2015. Police now say gross negligence led to the boy's death and both Geoff Fenton, 56, and Lily Fenton, 41, will appear in court in the coming months.

What is slapping therapy?

Slapping therapy is a controversial Chinese 'therapy' also known as the paida lajin method. According to The Guardian, one of the persons arrested in the Wiltshire case was probably Hongchi Xiao, a Chinese therapist who developed the "therapy". He was also at the centre of controversy surrounding the boy's death in Sydney. So what exactly does "slapping therapy" involve and why is it so dangerous?

Slapping therapy to 'purge toxins'

Hongchi Xiao advocates slapping as a way to purging toxins from patients. They should either be slapped repeatedly or slap themselves on different parts of their body – the heads and the join areas in particular. They should continue with this "self-healing method" until the skin starts looking bruised. The workshops also involve doing stretches against the walls or on the floor.

Hongchi Xiao details his approach in a book published in 2009 and entitled "The World of Medicine: The Paida Lajin Self-Healing Method". He has since then conducted workshops in parts of Asia but also in the US, Australia and Germany.

Paida lajin takes its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. It is based on the idea that the blood can be poisoned by toxins, but that these toxins can be expelled.

Seeing the skin turning red as a result of slapping is seen as a confirmation that the body is releasing the bad toxins trapped in the blood and a sign of "latent diseases" affecting the individual.

Why it is dangerous

The method has no scientific basis despite the claims that it can treat a lot of different conditions. There are no rigorous scientific studies that bring evidence that slapping therapy can actually improve the symptoms of chronic illnesses, let alone cure them.

A few examples taken from the testimonial sections of a website dedicated to slapping therapy illustrate how dangerous the method can be. Some people who have gone through the treatment claim it has healed their cancers and encourage other cancer patients to try it. Others say they have stopped taking their medicines after discovering paida lajin. Parents have also shared stories of how they have slapped their children to relieve them from stomach pains, high-fever induced convulsions or the flu.