Not being a native English speaker, I was not entirely sure what precisely slapping means. A dictionary informed me that it stands for “hitting somebody/something with the flat part of your hand”. And ‘slapping therapy’? What on earth is that? It occurred to me that there might be several types of slapping therapy.


Yes, it might be therapeutic to do that! Imagine you discuss with someone and realize that you do not have very good arguments to defend an irrational position. Eventually, you are cornered and angry. All you can think of is to slap your opponent.

No, not very constructive, but all too human, I suppose.

This sort of thing has happened to me several times during discussions at conferences: my opponents went so mad that I saw them clinching their fists or raising their hands. Fortunately, I can run quite fast and (so far) always managed to avoid the impending physical violence.


That sort of thing happens regularly. I have written posts about the phenomenon here, here, here and here, for instance. If you read the comments sections of this blog, you regrettably find plenty of examples.

If I am honest, I must admit that, on some occasions, I have in desperation joined into such mud-battles. I am not proud of it but sometimes it just happens. We are all just human, and it certainly feels therapeutic to be rude to someone who is a continuous and deplorable nuisance by hurling insults at opponents.

Having made this confession, I must stress (again) that, on this blog, we ought to avoid this sort of slapping therapy. In the long run, it is unhelpful and only escalates the aggression.


When I googled ‘slapping’ I was referred to all sorts of sleazy websites which were essentially displaying maso-sadistic pornography that involved one person slapping another for sexual pleasure. Personally, I do not get a kick out of this type of slapping therapy and find it sad that some people obviously do.


Paida is the form of slapping therapy that recently made headlines and which therefore prompted this post. Paida in Chinese means to slap your body. Sure enough, the TCM people have made it into an alternative treatment which is usually called SLAPPING THERAPY (what will they think of next? you may well ask!). Already the sexual version of slapping therapy was not really funny, but this certainly is where the satire stops!

Hongchi Xiao, a Chinese-born investment banker, popularised this treatment some time ago. It involves slapping the body surface with a view of stimulating the flow of ‘chi’. Slapping therapists – no, they are not called ‘slappers’!!! – believe that this ritual restores health and eliminates toxins. In fact, they claim that the bruises which patients tend to develop after their treatment are the visible signs of toxins coming to the surface.

The treatment is not based on evidence — I know of not even a single clinical trial showing that it works — and it is certainly not agreeable. But at least it’s safe! No, you’d be wrong to think so: if slapping therapy, or any other bizarre and useless intervention is being employed as a replacement for treating a serious condition, it inevitably becomes life-threatening.

Recently, it was reported that a woman from East Sussex died after receiving slapping therapy; other fatalities have been documented previously. The latest victim had been suffering from diabetes and was led to believe that Paida was an effective treatment for her condition. Consequently, she discontinued her medication, a decision which eventually killed her.

Deaths after apparently harmless alternative treatments are being reported with depressing regularity. However, much more often, the resulting harm is not quite so dramatic, simply because the conditions treated are fortunately not life-threatening. In such cases, the ineffectiveness of the treatment does not lead to disaster, but it nevertheless causes unnecessary expense and prolongation of suffering.

We live in a time where we are constantly being told, for instance by ‘experts’ like Prince Charles, that we ought to be respectful towards ancient traditions of healthcare. So, let’s be clear: I am all for respect towards other cultures, but in medicine there should be limits. I do not see any benefit in either respecting or implementing ancient, obsolete notions of life energies, meridians, toxins and other disproven assumptions of alternative practitioners. They originate from a pre-scientific era and have been disproven. They do not belong in modern treatment manuals; at best, they belong in the history books of medicine.




29 Responses to Slapping therapy? No thanks!

  • Could Paida be combined with tickling therapy as used for depression? I’m told people often enjoy a bit of slap and tickle.

  • Aren’t there over 100.000 people dying in America each year from treatment by western medicine, like side effects of medications? As a nurse I am disillusioned with the evidence based approach and rather see a holistic practitioner myself.

    • as a nurse you should have more knowledge and wisdom than making such a daft comment. medications have risks and benefits – where are the benefits of slapping therapy?

      • As a person who suffers from many muscle problems and vertigo I can say slapping myself works 100% every time I do it. I relieve almost all my pain with slapping…..NO DRUG OR DOCTOR could help me. So what else is a person to do to stop being bedridden all the time when doctors fail?

    • Ulli, the fact that evidence and science based medicine is not perfect is no reason at all to stick to treatments that perform far, far worse in severe scenarios. There is a paper on breast cancer patients having refused state-of-the-art therapy in favour of “holistic” treatments. Now guess what. After 5 years, 4 out of 10 of these where still alive compared to 8/10 in the state-of-the-art group. I.o.W. choosing holistic approaches instead of state-of-the-art means a three fold higher probability to die within 5 years.

    • EE

      Yup, thanks for sharing Edzard
      I hadn’t seen that yet.

      I found a link that explains a bit more than your link;

      The lady that died was foolish also, she holds some of the responsibility for her own death.
      “It is believed she neglected to take her regular insulin injections and had fasted for three days before being found in her hotel room at Cleeve House in Seend, Wiltshire.”

      Hongchi Xiao should have learned his lesson previously with regard to diabetes claims…. first and foremost that he is not licensed to kill like MD’s are.
      The death had little to do with slapping therapy, it had everything to do with not taking diabetes medication.
      My wife and I will continue slapping until we find a negative result.

      • As long as she does not slap you…

        • lol…. touche

          I do my own head slaps, everybody that practices Paida should monitor their own pain tolerances, at least above the neck.

          The truth is that I need her to slap areas that are too difficult to reach myself.

          • @Rg
            You seem to enjoy different therapy types. Do you also do Tong ren?

          • @Bjorn


            Looks ripe for a takeover from Big Ceramics to me.

          • I almost started a quip comment about consensual violence and BDSM, but then I decided that would probably be both rude and inconsiderate.

            Facebook presented me recently with repeated advertisements for a healer-conference that was held in my home city. I guess they were desperate for attendance? One of the highlights fo the program was a physiotherapist presenting Paida slapping therapy. In the program it says that Paida is “Slapping to enable smooth energy flow in meridians throughout the body”
            It must be kinetic energy from the banging that propagates through the body like earthquakes, right?
            I would guess then that any kind of physical exercise would do the same, better, and without the silly ritual?

            I guess the whole program forthis conference is interesting to those who study aberrant thinking:
            I did not go and from the pictures there does not seem to have been a crowd attending?

            There are many things to contemplate in this program. One of the more obscure ones is this: “Despite having an engineering background, he was somehow drawn to EFT” Am I wrong to interpret this as saying that education in rational thinking and analytical approach was inconsistent with interest in EFT?

          • Bjorn,

            Much as I sincerely love your mystification (“It must be kinetic energy from the banging that propagates through the body like earthquakes, right?”) of simple massage techniques, you should avoid trying to seduce Frank down your magical thinking bunnyhole.

            Frank is totally capable of doing some basic research beyond wikipedia and youtube, and finding out that “Slapping to enable smooth energy flow in meridians throughout the body” is a cute way of saying “massage helps with circulation”.

            “I would guess then that any kind of physical exercise would do the same, better, and without the silly ritual?”

            You could talk to your doctor about the difference between massage and exercise. They could probably explain it to you. ? Maybe they’d take you on a field trip to a traditional sauna, and slap you with some birch branches. (Careful to appease the sauna elf/diety (however you want to translate “saunatonttu”.)

            @RG – what’s the silly ritual Bjorn is referring to?

          • @jm

            Yes, in general more blood circulation is a good thing.

            If nothing more, you will increase your heart rate. If you don’t believe me, try slapping yourself (near the point of pain) one time per second… for a good ten minutes. Your heart rate will have increased, I guarantee it.

          • RG

            Sure, but what are the silly rituals? For instance, some northern European sauna rituals involve leaving food for the sauna deity – and hopefully they in turn warn you of fires and things like that. What silly rituals does “slapping” have? What’s Bjorn talking about?

  • @Bjorn

    Hilarious…. thanks.
    I am indebted to you for being the recipient of a good laugh, which is some of the best medicine, you are indeed a worthy MD.

    Interesting demonstration, I think he is a very experienced practitioner because he could hit the desired spot on the representative body without even looking….. lol

    I would agree that I fail to see the connection between the demonstration and the science.
    At best a placebo. in my view possibly on the verge of voodoo magic.

    That said, if it makes a person feel better, without harm, I’m not against it…. or placebo effects.

  • And… more Paida related:

  • Bjorn

    That is old news.

    If you think your attacking Paida means anything to me…. you’re wrong.
    Say what you want about Paida, I could care less what anybody here thinks about it.

    I testify that Paida will increase blood circulation in the area being slapped, and blood circulation of the heart…. no more than that. I make no other claims here except that it works for me…. nor have I promoted it here.

    • I recommend having slapping tools available, they extend the arms reach. Beyond that, on occasions the hard will get tired.
      That said, I recommend using the hand as much as possible as the impact is beneficial therapy for the hand also.

    • Yet another similarity with the Scandinavian cultures – you can get slapping tools (vihta) made from various plants, depending on the health benefit you want or need. You apparently can treat bronchitis, pneumonia, high blood pressure, “settle the nervous system”, and some are remedies for infections.

      From a site in Finland, “Whisking is a holistic wellbeing service as old and as essential tradition in people´s lives as sauna itself. The whisking creates an overall conscious and therapeutical touch, which enables the healing from within to begin. It opens the energy flow as well as physically cleans and massages the body. The healing power of different tree species and the steam called löyly, gently relaxes and balances the mind, the body and the soul.”

      According to the NIH, “Beating with the vihta promotes sweating and stimulates the warm skin. Many curative and magical effects have been attributed to the practice.”

      Seems that northern Europe has taken slapping to a new level by combining it with heat. But the sauna is more dangerous – apparently killing 30-40 per year. ( Probably due to not feeding the sauna elf.

      • From a site in Finland

        Ah, Finland! My main memory of Helsinki is trying tar-flavoured ice-cream, which is apparently very popular.

        • Yes Julian, the Finns are a very nice people, good sense of humour and very smart, too smart to hurt themselves when enjoying the Sauna and gently slapping their skin with the Vihta bunch of leaves. No one comes out of the sauna bath all bruised up and beaten black and blue like the victims of Paida-Lajin cultism.
          That some Finns die in the sauna is not so strange, seeing how much time they spend there. I seem to recall that a large part of those who die in the United states do so while sitting on the toilet straining to empty the bowels?

        • “No one comes out of the sauna bath all bruised up and beaten black and blue…”

          Well of course not, Bjorn. They’ve healed the bruises from within, from the conscious and therapeutical vihta slapping opening the energy flow.

          Leaving food for the sauna elf/deity probably helps, too. Maybe the paida folks need an elf.

  • Slapping therapy in Germany:
    Note the appearence of the haemorrhagic lesions or “Sha” that according to multitude of exts describing this practice seems to be a desired result. The practitioners believe it is a sign of imaginary something bad being “drawn out”, released or whatever esoteric phrases the practitioner chooses to use.
    The internet seems replete with images supporting this

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