I was just reading about Jamaican Ginger Paralysis. During prohibition (1920 - 1933) many poor people drank ethanol-based extracts to get their "fix". One was Jamaican Ginger, aka "Jake". It's not normally toxic, but because of some changes made to it to get around gov't restrictions, it caused widespread paralysis in drinkers. It was a big deal, as possibly more than 100,000 were affected.
While stories like this give "homebrew" alcohol production a bad name, the root cause of this health disaster was prohibition.
Lot's more here:
BTW, jake leg had a large part in the book "Water for Elephants
". It's an entertaining read. I dropped out of high school and spent a year on the road with a show, so it was especially interesting to me.