Well done and short story about zaatar in the Food History and Culture pages of National Public Radio website. During a trip to Damascus, the writer encounters zaatar in a bazzar and also at a flat bread fast food stand, and loves it, and writes back to NPR food writers inquiring "Where does za'atar come from? How long has it been around? What, besides oregano, is in it?" and is it brain food?"
In reply, the writer concisely discusses the history and culture of zaatar as both a spice mix but importantly the herb with scientific names Majorana syriaca and Origanum syriacum and how its also referred to as wild thyme.It also cites the beliefs on
the health benefits of zaatar- how the essential oils have antioxidant, antispetic and fungicide properties.
Zaatar's healthy reputation as brainy food is also cited with reference to a study - "Carvacrol: From Ancient Flavoring to Neuromodulatory Agent"
Here is the link to the pdf of the study performed by a team of researchers from several universities. The study finds that ".. carvacrol is a brain-active molecule that clearly influences neuronal activity through modulation of neurotransmitters. If regularly ingested in low concentrations, it might determine feelings of well-being and could possibly have positive reinforcer effects."