An alternative healer accused of the manslaughter of a diabetic woman who stopped taking insulin at one of his workshops has told a court he would “never” persuade someone who needed their diabetes medication not to take it.

Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, died at Cleeve House in Seend, Wiltshire, where she was taking part in the event in October 2016 which promoted paida lajin therapy, in which patients are slapped, or slap themselves, repeatedly.

Hongchi Xiao, 61, of Cloudbreak, California, in the US, who was described as “Master Xiao” in the programme for the event, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of the manslaughter by gross negligence of Mrs Carr-Gomm, from Lewes, East Sussex.

The court previously heard how Xiao said “well done” to Mrs Carr-Gomm after she told the group she had stopped taking her insulin at the week-long retreat, and prosecutors had said Xiao failed to seek medical help for her as she became seriously ill.

Giving evidence on Thursday, he said, when asked if insulin was bad: “Of course I would never say it is bad, it is useful.”

Asked whether if someone needed insulin if he would ever try to persuade them not to take it, he replied: “Never.”

On his attitude towards medication at his workshops, he added: “First of all I said I’m not a medical doctor, so everyone is responsible for their own medication.

“Secondly I’m not fully against medicine, what I’m concerned about is the side effect of the medicine.

“To stop medication there is one condition, you don’t do it all of it suddenly, you do it gradually, you must always check.”

The trial previously heard Mrs Carr-Gomm had sought alternatives to her insulin medication for type 1 diabetes because of her vegetarianism and fear of needles.

She had first joined a paida lajin workshop – which means “slap and stretch” – run by the defendant in Bulgaria in July 2016.

The court had heard that Mrs Carr-Gomm had provided a testimonial for Xiao describing him as a “messenger sent by God” who was “starting a revolution to put the power back in the hands of the people to cure themselves and to change the whole system of health care”.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC had told jurors: “He knew that Mrs Carr-Gomm was risking death, and he knew that he had an influence over her decision.

“In short, therefore, he chose to congratulate a diabetic who stopped injecting, rather than to persuade them not to take so grievous a risk to their life.”

Xiao told jurors he stopped working in finance in the early 2000s because he “wanted to do something else more meaningful” and travelled in the mountainous areas of China, where he learnt various methods relating to natural healing, from fishermen to kung fu masters.

He described paida laijin as “very safe”.

Of the self healing method, he added: “It should be very safe because you cannot harm yourself, right? Even more simple than tai chi or yoga.

“It does not target any specific disease, instead it focuses on unblocking the blockages.”

Xiao said he “never” suggested to anyone he was a doctor or suggested he had medical training.

Before learning paida laijin he said he learnt methods such as acupuncture, cupping and massage, and practised the natural healing in Tibet, where he was invited by monks and stayed in a monastery treating 100 people a day.

“So many people, hundreds of them waiting for you to use this method, and I became sick,” he said.

“I came to realise there’s no way for me to treat people because it’s endless.

“There must be a way or method every individual must treat themselves.”

He said he decided to learn more about self healing.

The trial continues.