Norwegian Language Blog

Alternative Healing and Medicine in Norway Posted by on Oct 15, 2010 in Culture

In the last couple of decades, alternative medicine and healing has really taken off in Norway, and Scandinavia as a whole.  As in all cultures, complementary medicinal treatment has existed in traditional Norwegian folk medicine, which the Samí people have practiced since the beginning of their existence.  I will re-iterate what I wrote in my previous post that the culture of the Samí, including their healing practices were suffered scrutiny from the church and traditional medicine for hundreds of years.  Nevertheless, it is alive today and some of the ideas have actually spread throughout the non-Samí culture of medicine as well.

While in the beginning of the modern presence of alternative medicine, as in most countries, the media and general public expressed negative and skeptical views of it.  There is no regulation of complementary medicine in Norway today-it is a legal practice and the government has actually recognized its benefits.  It wasn´t until 1994 that that Norwegian Healers Association was founded and began to have a real impact on society in general.  Previously, those who were willing to accept alternative medicinal treatment did so only after all other traditional methods had failed.  Since the founding of the Norwegian Healers Association and its mission to set standards for healers, people have saught alternative medicine even before traditional treatments.

It took a while for the medical profession to recognize the benefits of complementary medicine, but in the last decade they have done just this.  In 1998, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs appointed a committee, consisting of no healers and a majority of doctors from the traditional medicine profession, to publish a report on the scientific effects of healing.  They concluded that indeed, there was evidence of scientific effects of alternative medicine and healing.  Believe it or not, today there are healers employed in hospitals and institutions of social care.  The Ministry of Social Health and Affairs established NAFKAM, The National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine under the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tromsø.  NAFKAM oversees the Registry of Exceptional Course of Disease, a registry of information collected from patients who have experienced an exceptional course of disease with alternative medicine, rather than conventional.

I have recently ordered the most recent book of northern Norwegian author, Anni Henriksen, called Å Stoppe Blod: Fortellinger om læsing, helbredelse, hjelpere, og varsler which is tells the stories of patients who have experienced exceptional course of disease through alternative medicine and healing.  I look forward to reading it as I have spoken with her several times in the past few days about translating her book into English.  Currently, is is only available in Norwegian and many people have expressed interest in the translation of the book from Norwegian to English.  If you read Norwegian, you can order it from one of several bookstores in Norway, such as Libris or Norli.

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!