Researchers are using propolis, a resinous substance produced by honey bees, to fight cavities and are examining whether the compound can be used to control hypertension, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, said.

Bees use propolis, which is made from plant resins gathered by the insects, to seal hives, UNAM said.

The chemical structure of propolis "varies due to factors such as the time of year, flowering and the region where the insects gather it," the university said.

The project, whose goal is to promote the use of a "wasted resource," is being carried out by UNAM School of Chemistry researcher Jose Fausto Rivero Cruz and veterinarians Angel Lopez Ramirez and Adriana Correa Benitez.

Mexico produces just six tons annually of propolis even though it is the world's sixth-largest honey producer, the researchers said.

Propolis is mainly used in Mexico to deal with coughs, but it is known that the substance has other therapeutic uses and can help in the treatment of viral infections, scars, swelling, allergies and pain.

The researchers tested the effects of propolis on the bacterial organisms that cause cavities - Porphyromonas gingivalis and Streptococcus mutans - and isolated some compounds that help fight the dental problem.

"With these discoveries, we can look for ways to prevent cavities," Rivero Cruz said.

The researchers are also looking at using propolis to control high blood pressure, but that phase of the project is going more slowly and has not entered the test stage yet, UNAM said.