Complementary and alternative medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAMs) are health-related treatments that are provided outside the healthcare service and are not provided by an authorised healthcare professional.

Picture of a woman receiving cupping treatment

Some examples of what are considered to be CAMs in Norway are acupuncture, cupping, aromatherapy, hypnosis, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine.

All CAM providers are subject to a duty of confidentiality.

What are CAM providers permitted to do?

CAM providers are permitted to alleviate the symptoms or side effects of regular medical treatments.

CAM providers are permitted to provide treatment which strengthens the immune system or the body’s ability to heal itself.

What are CAM providers not permitted to do?

CAM providers are not permitted to perform medical procedures or provide treatment which could potentially seriously endanger the health of the patient. They may not provide treatment for infectious diseases which could endanger public health or safety, or other serious diseases or disorders.

CAM providers who provide treatments they are not permitted to provide may be penalised.

Reduced rights

If you receive complementary and alternative medicine from a CAM provider outside the healthcare services, your rights as a patient will be reduced.

CAM providers are required to follow the Alternative Treatment Act (lov om alternativ behandling av sykdom) (in Norwegian). However, the Act does not require for treatments to be justifiable. This restricts your rights as a patient.

When healthcare professionals provide CAMs

Healthcare professionals must always comply with the Health Personnel Act (helsepersonelloven) (in Norwegian). They have a duty to act professionally as healthcare personnel.

If you receive CAMs in or out of a healthcare institution from a healthcare professional, you will have the same patient rights as other patients in the health and care services.

Submitting complaints about CAMs

CAM providers are not subject to official supervision. This means that there is no public body to which you may submit complaints.

The exception is if the CAM provider is an authorised healthcare professional or the treatment is provided through the healthcare service, in which case it is possible to submit a complaint to the County Governor.

The Brønnøysund Register Centre has a register scheme for CAM practitioners (in Norwegian). All practitioners on this register are affiliated to practitioners’ organisations. These organisations are obliged to have a scheme in place for dealing with complaints. Complaints about treatment should be addressed to the relevant practitioners’ organisation.

Other supervisory bodies

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Medicines Agency can be contacted about marketing issues for dietary supplements, natural remedies and medicines. In addition, the Consumer Authority has developed guidelines for the marketing of CAMs (In Norwegian).

The Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA) supervises the use of lasers and lighting equipment used by CAM providers. Read more about Laser and Light Treatments on the DSA website (in Norwegian).

Content provided by The Norwegian Directorate of Health

The Norwegian Directorate of Health. Complementary and alternative medicine. [Internet]. Oslo: The Directorate of e-health; updated Thursday, December 1, 2022 [retrieved Tuesday, December 5, 2023]. Available from:

Last updated Thursday, December 1, 2022