Paida laijin is a controversial Chinese therapeutic technique in which patients vigorously slap different parts of their bodies. Developed by therapist Xiao Hongchi who claimed he learned the technique from a Taoist monk, the name comes from the Mandarin words "pai" (patting) and "da" (slapping) while "laijin" refers to stretching muscles through using different postures. As Xiao explaineed in a media interview, "the slapping and stretching work together to clear the meridians of blocks and help the body get rid of the disease,” he explained. Slapping the body, he said, “builds heat, causing blood vessels to expand, and ‘chi’ to flow strongly. Yang rises, yin melts and long-held toxins and blocks are released.”
Since first shooting to fame following the publication of Xiao Hongchi's book, The World of Medicine: The Paida Lajin Self-Healing Method, in 2009, paida laijin workshops have become extremely popular across much of Asia. Workshops have been held in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, and Singapore and are routinely sold out. And the movement has been spreading to Western countries as well. While critics have condemned Xiao's teaching, especially following the death of a seven-year-old diabetic child in Sydney, Australia at one of his workshops, paida laijin remains popular.
But new controversy has erupted due to the death of a 71-year-old woman just hours after attending a paida laijin workshop in Wiltshire, England. Danielle Carr-Gomm was an alternative medicine enthusiast who had reportedly attended a previous paida laijin workshop in Bulgaria and had signed up for the new workshop to repeat the experience. In describing that previous workshop, she wrote in her blog that “After an initial sharing we began with administering paida on ourselves and on others in pairs or groups of three...At the end of the first session large areas of my body were bruised and blue which indicated that a lot of ‘sha’ or poisoned blood and toxins had been released.” Despite the bruising, she said of the paida laijin therapy that “the results are totally astonishing and encouraging”.
The week long course that she attended was run by Xiao Hongchi and cost 750 UK pounds to attend. Hours after the Wiltshire workshop ended on October 19, police were called to her home in Seend, Wilthshire following her sudden death at three AM. They subsequently declared the death be "suspicious" and arrested two men and a women on suspicion of manslaughter. Their names were not given and it is unclear whether they were running the workshop or were participants. All three suspects were subsequently released on bail.
At the inquest into Ms. Carr-Gomm's death, the coroner reported that an autopsy failed to yield any conclusive findings though toxicological tests were still pending. She was known to be a Type I diabetic and may have stopped taking insulin during the course of the workshop. Her son told reporters that Ms. Carr-Gomm had attended the course in the hope of being cured of her diabetes.