This section is from the book "The Human Body: An Elementary Text-Book Of Anatomy, Physiology, And Hygiene", by H. Newell Martin. Also available from Amazon: The Human Body.
One of the worst features of the poisonous characteristics of alcohol is its power even in small quantities to create a craving for itself that often becomes irresistible. It is therefore the nature of beer, cider, and wine to lead to an increasing use of alcohol. A continued increasing use of alcohol results in drunkenness. The craving for alcohol is not a natural appetite; it is not a demand set up by the tissues of the body for a new supply of material needed for construction or repair. Enough food to supply this demand satisfies, more causes satiety; but the craving for alcohol increases with its supply. The only remedy is to cease the use of the liquor craved.
What is cider? Why does exposed apple-juice ferment ? What is wine? Does the nature of a substance depend upon its quality or quantity? What substance do all beer, ale, cider, perry, and wines contain? What can you say of the character of alcohol in all these? What is one of the worst characteristics of alcohol, and what danger therefore attends the use of the lighter liquors ?
* The yeast found most frequently on the surface of ripe grapes is the Saccharomyces ellipsoidius, called also the ferment of wine.
The difficulty of overcoming the alcoholic appetite once it has been acquired, and the danger of arousing it again after it has long been successfully resisted, make it unwise to use alcoholic liquors for flavoring food.
When yeast causes fermentation of dilute sugar solutions, other substances than carbon dioxide and common alcohol are formed in small quantity. Many alcohols are known to chemists, but when the word alcohol is used without qualification, common or ethyl alcohol is understood. The hurtful actions on the human body of ethyl alcohol are stated in other chapters of this book, and are serious enough. But in most fermentations of sugary liquids under the influence of yeast other alcohols are also produced, much more poisonous than common alcohol. The most important of these specially poisonous alcohols is amylic alcohol or fusel-oil. Few kinds of spirituous drinks are free from it, and it is a very potent poison.