Curcumin is an extract of the kitchen spice turmeric, the main ingredient in curry. It’s also among those traditional botanicals that in very recent times have been the subject of new scientific interest. (Several National Institutes of Health studies of curcumin have been conducted or are currently underway.)
Here’s a capsule history from the NYBC entry on Curcumin:
“…Curcumin’s use dates back to the time of Egyptian pharaohs and Indian rajas more than 6,000 years ago. A tall, stemless, perennial plant cultivated throughout the tropics, especially in India, China and Indonesia, turmeric is what gives curry its unique flavor and color; but in addition to its kitchen uses, curcumin has been used by traditional medicine for liver disease (particularly jaundice), indigestion, urinary tract diseases, blood purification, inflamed joints (rheumatoid arthritis), insect bites, dermatological disorders and as an atherosclerosis preventative. Although the chemical structure of curcumin was determined in 1910, it was only during the mid 1970s and 1980s that the potential uses of curcuminoids in medicine began to be extensively studied.”
There’s more about the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin in the NYBC web entry, where you also find information on dosing recommendations. Note that curcumin has also been studied in recent decades for its anti-cancer properties, as well as for its usefulness to people with HIV.