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Burlington, Vermont - December 7, 2007

On Burlington's busy St. Paul Street, Lunaroma is a break from the hustle and bustle. Owner Leyla Bringas says, "It's wonderful for grounding and relaxation."

Bringas started her aromatherapy business in 2000 out of her home. Her dream was to spread the word about the benefits of oils extracted from plants. She explains, "Essential oils are a great way to help your body prevent illness."

The apothecary expanded, part of a boom in a sector of the personal care products industry that stresses all-natural ingredients. Lunaroma outgrew Bringas's house almost five years ago. The aromatherapist says, "Everything we do here is by hand."

The staff blends body butters, salt scrubs, and more using imported oils. Many of those oils come from exotic plants and trees. This time of year, frankincense is a popular ingredient.

The Biblical gift to the baby Jesus starts as a resin removed from a scraggly tree that grows in portions of Africa and Asia. Steam distilling removes the musky, nutty fragrance.

Bringas explains, "Frankincense is used primarily topically for skin rejuvenation. It's great for wrinkles around the eyes."

No wonder frankincense and myrrh were gifts treasured by the Biblical wise men. At Lunaroma, frankincense costs $27 for just one-third of an ounce of oil. But the products it goes into are only slightly more expensive than drug store lines.

Lunaroma does custom-blending. At Christmastime, many customers choose scents that remind them of the holiday, including evergreen, for aromatic room sprays. Myrrh is a logical partner for frankincense. Also, spices, including cinnamon and clove, are hot sellers.

Bringas says, "If you think of apple pie or the desserts that happen this time of year, the spices are really popular."

The staff here is trained in holistic remedies, explaining aromatherapy can help a host of problems including headaches and menstrual cramps. But direct-to-consumer sales are only a portion of the small business's income. Almost one half of all products go wholesale to spas, including the upscale Spa at Stoweflake.

Bringas beams, "We're totally passionate about making our blends. We pride ourselves on doing the best job we can do."

And passionate about staying "Made in Vermont." This is a place where clean living and the natural approach are ingredients in so many products.

Jack Thurston - WCAX News - Made in Vermont

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