It is not sufficiently appreciated that methly alcohol is very toxic. For economic reasons, methyl (wood) alcohol is employed as a substitute for ethyl (grain) alcohol, in what may be termed comparatively innocent products, such as perfumes, hair tonics, skin lotions, polishes, varnishes, etc. Government analysts, not infrequently, find it employed in the manufacture of various extracts for the flavoring of food products. Since prohibition has come into force, pure methyl alcohol, being somewhat similar in odor and taste to ethyl alcohol, has been employed in the preparation of various alcoholic beverages. This in great part is due to ignorance and has resulted in many deaths.
The literature, both experimental and clinical, on this subject shows a preponderance of papers relative to the effects of this drug on the central nervous system, especially the brain and optic nerves, and little reference has been made to lesions elsewhere in the body.