Penicillin is a prescription antibiotic used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. Ampicillin, amoxicillin and benzylpenicilllin are next-generation antibiotics, and are more commonly used today. When the immune system is weak and unable to fight infection, antibiotics are prescribed. You may also want to try certain supplements that have been shown to strengthen the immune system. Always check with your doctor first, and never use vitamins in place of prescription medications.
Vitamin C is a popular vitamin used to fight infection and improve immune function. Nobel Prize winner and physician, Dr. Linus Pauling studied the effects of vitamin C on the human body. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, cites several studies that confirm vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which help fight infection. It may also help protect the integrity of immune cells. It is a natural antioxidant and protects the body against free radical damage. In his studies, Dr. Pauling administered more than 1 gram of vitamin C a day. However, more recent reports show that 500 mg a day is still effective for improving immune function. Check with your medical doctor before using vitamin C to treat infection.
Vitamin D is manufactured in the body when the skin comes in direct contact with ultra-violet rays from the sun. Vitamin D helps to build tissue and repair wounds. Because of an increased concern over skin cancer and excessive sun exposure, many people are now considered vitamin D deficient. According to a 2009 report in the Times of India, "Vitamin D plays an important role in activating the immune system." Additionally, higher levels of protein and vitamin D have been shown to reduce infection in dialysis patients. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 5 micrograms or 200 IU's daily. Talk to your doctor about using vitamin D therapeutically to fight infection.
Zinc is a trace mineral found in fish, red meat, nuts and seeds. Like vitamin C it helps protect cells from free radical damage. And, like vitamin D, it helps to heal wounds and strengthen the immune system. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that zinc plays an important role in proper immune function, and those who are deficient in this mineral are more susceptible to infection. It is now found in many over-the-counter cold remedies and lozenges. Check with your doctor for appropriate use of zinc when fighting infection.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, you can use garlic supplements to help fight infection. The Clayton College of Natural Health Herb Reference Guide notes that it was used extensively in World Wars I and II, and was known as the "Russian penicillin." Garlic is naturally antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. However, it is also a natural blood thinner and should not be used if you are taking prescription blood thinners such as Coumadin. Check with your doctor before combining garlic supplements with other prescription medication.