Updated 1 March 2020
I was first diagnosed with migraine when I was 5, which probably wasn’t too surprising to my relatives since most of the women in my family have this same neurological disorder, though it was only called a “sick headache” when I was young. At age 9, I was diagnosed as having (non-convulsive) seizures when I had a migraine. More than “just a headache,” migraine is a complex neurological disorder affecting the entire body, with the unilateral head pain being only one of the symptoms of a migraine attack. Affecting 10-15% of the adult population, migraine is, in fact, the most common neurological disorder, ahead of stroke, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy. Migraine causes a phenomenon known as Cortical Spreading Depression (CSD) wherein the cortical neurons begin to shut down in a wave across the brain (see This Is Your Brain on Migraine). The CSD causes the trigeminal nerve to become inflamed, resulting in one of the most debilitating and excruciating types of pain known to humans. And I have at least three types of migraine:
- without aura (sometimes called common)
- with aura (also called classic or complicated)
- hemiplegic (sometimes called complex), which can be familial (hereditary) or sporadic (non-familial)
Medical Massage Therapy for Migraine
I’ve been seeing medical massage therapists, on my physician’s advice, for almost 35 years, and many of them used acupressure and craniosacral therapy to reduce some of my migraine attacks (detailed in Head-Banger’s Ball). Medical massage therapy also enabled me, over the years, to identify physical injuries, some from severe childhood abuse, which were triggers for my migraine without aura. My current medical massage therapist used an Infratonic 8000 to treat my frequently dislocated right hip: that childhood injury does trigger migraine attacks for me.
The Infratonic sends infrasonic sound waves, which are beyond the usual range of humans’ hearing, through tissue and bone in order to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Because the Infratonic’s sound waves reduce inflammation, any pain caused by the inflammation is also reduced. There is no invasive treatment, no experimental drugs, no surgeries, no physicians, no insurance companies. Just sound waves. The Infratonic 8000 reduced the pain in my dislocated hip and lower back so much, I decided to learn how to use a sound-wave-healing device myself.
On my head.
Sound healing is not new. Tibetan Singing Bowls, chanting, humming, lullabies — they’re all forms of sound that have been used throughout history for soothing, healing, or meditation. I’ve had a Tibetan Singing Bowl for almost two decades now. I meditate with it and use it to reduce anxiety during a panic attack. Unfortunately, the Singing Bowl doesn’t reduce the pain or duration of a migraine, whether it is with aura or without, nor does the Singing Bowl reduce the excruciating pain of atypical trigeminal neuralgia, from which I’ve suffered for the last three years. Because my medical massage therapist had actually used a Chi Institute (formerly, Sound Vitality) Infratonic sound wave device, which allows you to direct its sound waves at the source of the pain (or at the site of the injury, as the case may be), on some of my childhood injuries to reduce recurrent pain, I decided to use that specific device on migraine in the summer of 2018 after a three-month intractable migraine showed no sign of ending.
My therapist was afraid to use her Infratonic device on my head: I have hemiplegic migraine that can cause seizures, and my therapist feared that the sound waves might trigger a migraine-induced seizure. In June 2018, after I’d had an intractable migraine for over 3 months, she let me borrow her Infratonic 8000 (an older version) to use at home, cautioning me to make sure I was lying down in bed before using it on the migraine pain so that, if the sound waves did trigger a seizure, I would already be in a safe environment.
When I first put the Infratonic 8000 on my head, directly over the migraine pain, the pain increased slightly. Almost immediately, however, the pain changed in a way that’s difficult to describe. Before I’d even removed the Infratonic 8000 from my head to change its settings, the pain began to reduce in intensity. Using the Infratonic 8000 never triggered a migraine-seizure, and because the Infratonic 8000 so noticeably reduced the pain, I started researching the science behind the sound wave device as well as how I could acquire an Infratonic sound wave device of my own.
After I had my own Infratonic 9 (June 2018) and had a hemiplegic migraine, which I consider the most severely painful of any migraine, superimposed on the intractable migraine, I put the Infratonic 9 right on the pain. First, it increased for several seconds, but then it was immediately reduced. Whenever I took the I-9 off my head, the pain worsened, so I used the device all day long. I still had to take pain medications, but I was able to take much less (only on3 Tylenol 3 every four hours instead of 2 every four hours; I still had to stay in bed, but the pain was noticeably reduced with the I-9 sound wave device on my head). I then slept with the I-9 under my pillow overnight, and when I woke the next morning, the hemiplegic migraine, which usually takes 3-7 days to run its course, was completely gone.
The intractable migraine, which would eventually last 20 months because it was being triggered by two cracked teeth that had to be extracted (April and late November 2019), was, of course, still there, but the hemiplegic migraine attack had ended. Using the I-9 sound wave device helped me become more functional throughout the intractable migraine by reducing the pain to a more manageable level. I wanted my own Infratonic 9.
The Chi Institute Sound Devices
The Chi Institute (formerly, Sound Vitality) makes no claim that their sound wave devices heal you. Instead, they say that their devices reduce pain and inflammation with infrasonic sound waves (varying from 8-800 Hz or cycles per second, which is below the threshold of most humans’ ability to hear), allowing your own body to begin to heal itself. The patented Infratonic is 501(k) listed by the FDA as medical massage device, though it doesn’t really “massage” your tissue. The earlier units, which plug in, vibrate a bit, but it’s not actual massage. The Infratonic 9 does not vibrate.
The newest version of the Infratonic sound wave device is a dramatic improvement over the earlier devices, which were rather large and cumbersome, and which needed to be plugged in to operate. To use the Infratonic 8000, you had to literally be within a foot or two of the device’s base. The Infratonic 8000 is no longer available for sale because the company now offers a new version: the Infratonic 9, or I-9 for short. Not only is the Infratonic 9 smaller than the previous versions of The Chi Institute’s devices, it is portable and rechargeable. The I-9 is approximately 3.5″ wide, 6.5″ long, and slightly over 1.5″ deep. It weighs 14 ounces (i.e., much less than the hardcover Lord of the Rings in one volume) and fits in the palm of my hand. The I-9 comes with its own carrying case and AC adapter/charger.
I was delighted to learn that you do not have to have a medical massage license to purchase The Chi Institute’s Infratonic 9. You do not need your physician’s recommendation or a prescription to buy one, and you most certainly do not need the permission of an insurance company to buy the I-9 to treat your own pain.
Many medical massage therapists have Infratonic sound devices, including the I-9, and for the price of the therapy visit, you can experience the Infratonic device yourself. If the therapists have earlier models, like the Infratonic 8000, etc, they look different, aren’t portable, and are quite a bit larger, but they work on the same principles.
I used the Infratonic 8000 periodically for a few years in my medical massage therapist’s office, then used the Infratonic 8000 daily for almost 3 months. After that I began using the portable Infratonic 9, and I used that model virtually 24 hours a day 7 days a week for almost 2 years to treat an intractable migraine and neuropathic facial pain (atypical trigeminal neuralgia). It does significantly and noticeably reduce migraine and other chronic pain.
The Chi Institute’s
Operating the Infratonic
The Infratonic 9 is relatively easy to operate. There are three sound wave settings on the I-9 for reducing pain and promoting healing, and, according to the director, each setting has its own frequency of sound waves.
- Balance (which some medical massage therapists call “body”): soundwaves at 8-17 Hz
- Acute (which some call “body and mind”): soundwaves at 8-50 Hz
- Deep Calm (which some call “spirit”): soundwaves 8-800 Hz
The device can run continuously, but it also has two pre-set timers (10 or 20 minutes) which can operate with an electronic alarm. The timed settings, with or without alarm, shut the device off automatically at the end of the designated time. The sound waves are emitted from the underside of the I-9, which looks like the grill of a fan. No air comes out. The I-9 has a patented Chaos system that makes the sound waves come out in a “chaotic pattern” so that your brain and body cells cannot accustom themselves to the sound waves. According to the Chi Institute, if your cells can find the pattern, they can replicate it, which allows the damaged cells to remain damaged.
I placed the Infratonic directly on my bare skin: the I-9 does not heat up. I never put any gels or lotions on my skin for the sound waves to pass through tissue and bone; further, putting the I-9 on top of gels or lotions since those might damage the machine by getting inside. I never had to take breaks from using the I-9: I used it 24/7 for over 15 months of an intractable migraine that lasted almost 2 years (triggered by neuropathic facial pain; formerly, “trigeminal neuralgia”) as well as for 3 months since the migraine ended for the neuropathic facial pain itself: during the day, I wear the I-9 in a headband-sleeve that I made for the device; at night, I put it under my pillow.
What’s In the Box
The box contains the Infrantonic 9; a non-padded, vinyl, zippered carrying case; a plug-in adapter for recharging the battery; and a handbook of testimonials from customers.
For such an expensive device, the carrying case is pretty flimsy. It is not padded in any way. Further, the AC adapter/charger does not fit into the carrying case with the I-9 itself, which is a serious design flaw. The AC-adapter/charger doesn’t have retractable prongs, and it must be plugged in directly to an outlet, i.e., it doesn’t have a USB port on the end to plug it into your computer at work.
The I-9 has a rechargeable battery (company’s estimated life expectancy of battery = 3 years) and a plug-in adapter/charger. It took 45 minutes to charge it the first time (their site says it takes 90 minutes). According to the Chi Institute’s customer service, you can safely use the I-9 while it is charging and they estimate 60-65 hours of continuous usage from one battery charge.
Warranty and Customer Service
The Infratonic 9 has a 30-day Unconditional Return Guarantee and 1-Year Warranty on Parts & Labor from The Chi Institute itself. Mine behaved strangely the first few days: it kept sounding the alarm and shutting itself off randomly. The Chi Institute paid my return shipping, replaced the circuit board and battery, and shipped the repaired I-9 to me, all free of charge. After it was returned to me, I used it over 6 months, virtually continuously, and it worked perfectly. Until it began misbehaving again: shutting itself off randomly, only without its customary warning beep.
At the end of the seventh month of constant usage, the light indicating that the battery needed to be charged on my I-9 began coming on in less than 24 hours — far shorter than the 48-60 hour charge time I’d been used to — and the unit began turning off and on and off again, by itself, but without the customary warning beeps. When I contacted Sound Vitality’s customer service about buying a new battery, they talked me through some troubleshooting tips to reset the device and mailed me a replacement battery free-of-charge. After the troubleshooting, which I was easily able to do myself, the device stopped randomly turning itself on and off. Once I installed the replacement battery, the device returned to its original 48-60 hours of operation before needing to be charged.
(You can see my update on the device performance and associated customer service below).
The Chi Institute has very good customer service, and someone is available to answer questions by phone or online chat to help you with your device during their company’s business hours.
The Chi Institute Sources of Infratonic Information
If you have questions about the I-9 itself, the customer service department at The Chi Institute (formerly, Sound Vitality) is happy to answer you via online chat or by phone at their toll-free number. They have a former website at Chi Institute, which has several articles on the 30-year history of the Infratonic, on how infrasonic sound waves work healing injured horses, on how the Infratonic reduces pain and cellular trauma, and how the Infratonic device accelerates recovery. The Hospital Protocol pages lists some of the types of injuries and tissue damage for which the Infratonic may be used. The Chi Institute also has testimonials on its site about the type of conditions the Infratonic machines have been used to treat.
Their older website has some diagrams about using the Infratonic (all versions), but I actually found it more effective when I just put the Infratonic (whether the older 8000 model or the latest model I-9) on the pain itself, as well as on any areas that might be contributing to the pain. The Infratonic Therapy User’s Guide for the I-9 is 110 pages of testimonials from customers who have used it on themselves or their animals, for injuries, surgeries, etc. You can read the entire guide online.
The Chi Institute has a video on the I-9 settings and timer, a brief video tip on using the I-9 for sleep, a very brief video mentioning the I-9 for headache and migraine, and a 48-minute webinar on treating various injuries and illnesses with the I-9, but there are no detailed instructions on how to specifically use the I-9 to treat specific injuries beyond “put it where it hurts” and “chase the pain.“
I had to figure out where to use the Infratonic for migraine pain myself. I would have loved to have found detailed articles when I was researching ways to reduce migraine pain with sound waves The Chi Institute needs a well researched and informative owner’s manual, indicating specific locations of possible treatment areas for the various painful conditions that sound waves may treat.
Final Evaluation of The Chi Institute’s
Infratonic 9 Sound Wave Device
My main purpose in using the Infratonic 9 sound wave device is to reduce and eliminate chronic and acute (sometimes excruciating) pain: the I-9 scores extremely high in that area. It reduces both chronic and acute pain almost immediately. I have been using The Chi Institute’s Infratonic sound wave devices continuously since Jun 2018, for migraine without aura, hemiplegic migraine, and atypical trigeminal neuralgia. Since August 2018, I have been using the Infratonic 9 constantly for the neuropathic facial pain (formerly, atypical trigeminal neuralgia). I even made a pocket for the device out of a sport’s headband, and I pin the device-in-the-pocket to another sports headband, and wear the I-9 all day long, over the area of the damaged trigeminal nerve root. At night, I sleep with the I-9 under my pillow, vent side turned upward.
The I-9 reduces the duration of hemiplegic migraine attacks and enables me to use less pain medication (though I still have to stay in bed during a hemiplegic migraine). After 3 months of continuous usage, the Infratonic sound wave device enabled me to differentiate among the intractable migraine without aura (that was being triggered by the atypical trigeminal neuralgia), the hemiplegic migraine attacks that were superimposed over the intractable migraine, and the unremitting pain of neuropathic facial pain (formerly, atypical trigeminal neuralgia). The I-9 also has reduced the frequency and the excruciating lightning-bolt pain of the atypical trigeminal neuralgia. For the past several weeks (March 2020), I have had days when I was relatively pain-free for hours at a time: when I tried not wearing the I-9 a couple mornings this past week, I had severe pressure in my face from the atypical trigeminal neuralgia and some excruciating breakthrough pain, but nothing I couldn’t handle with several aspirin, herbal supplements, and brief usage of the I-9.
The Infratonic 9 has given me hope that I will one day be completely pain-free.
Having used the Infratonic 8000, which is most decidedly not portable, the newer I-9 scores high with its portability and its light weight. Considering the fact that I was actually able to get out of bed regularly after using the I-9 for a few months, despite continuing pain, by literally wearing the I-9 (in the headband-sleeve, attached to another sports headband worn around my forehead), the smaller size, lighter weight, and portability of this newer device rate very high.
The I-9 was relatively easy for me to use, but I may be more familiar with all types of electronic devices than some people. Considering the fact that there are I-9 videos which demonstrate how to actually use the I-9, there are obviously some people who don’t understand its working mechanism. Sound Vitality would do well to have an instruction sheet on the device’s basic operation, especially if they wish to have people who are not medical massage therapists using the device on themselves.
More important than even a padded carrying case that would hold both the device and its adapter/charger, Sound Vitality needs to provide an owner’s manual that instructs us in how to treat chronic or acute pain with the I-9 sound wave device. Because I have been going to medical massage therapists for over two decades, and because I have purchased many medical textbooks to help me learn how to treat my own chronic pain, I was a little more informed about treatment areas for the pain of migraine and neuropathic facial pain than other consumers may be. However, I had to basically teach myself how to treat the damaged areas with the Infratonic 9. Some treatment areas reduced the pain, some didn’t have any effect on the pain (though, at least, treatment on these areas did not increase the pain). I would have greatly appreciated having an owner’s manual that gave me some rudimentary advice about I-9 placement.
Infratonic 9 Evaluation
• Ease of use: A-/B+
• Portability: A
• Reduction of pain, chronic and acute: A+
• Carrying case: D-
• Adapter/charger: C
• Battery life: C-
• Owner’s manual: F
• Warranty: A
• Customer service: B
Purchasing an Infratonic 9
I first had experience with an Infratonic 8000 in my medical massage therapist’s office, who told me that she had first used one on herself at the office of another medical massage therapist before she purchased an Infratonic for her office.
I realize that this is a rather expensive unit, and if I hadn’t used it in my medical massage therapist’s office for a recurring injury and its pain, I would have hesitated even longer before buying my own. My research into sound healing and The Chi Institute’s 30-day money-back guarantee convinced me to purchase my own I-9, and I was saving the money to buy it when I learned that The Chi Institute allows you to make a purchase via PayPal Installment.
You do not need a physician’s prescription or a medical massage license to purchase an Infratonic 9. I am not aware of any insurance companies’ covering the cost of the device, although you can purchase an I-9 with the funds in a Health Savings Account (HSA) if you have one.
The Chi Institute
Infratonic 9 *
My Infratonic 9 was purchased directly from The Chi Institute (formerly, Sound Vitality). I have not received any sort of compensation for this review. I did all the research on sound healing, ultrasound, infrasound, and Chi-sound machines myself, both before and after my Infratonic 9 was purchased. When I had some questions about the frequencies of the sound waves, I contacted The Chi Institute (Sound Vitality), and their Director told me the specific ranges of the sound waves, as well as why the Chaos mechanism was added to disrupt those sound waves for healing purposes. I learned everything else from my own research and my own experience with the Infratonic 8000 and the Infratonic 9, and that includes all the placement I used for pain relief and treatment.
The Infratonic 9 by The Chi Institute can be purchased directly from their site. After you have the item in your cart, you can choose Pay with PayPal if you wish to pay in installments. You will then be taken to PayPal’s site, where PayPal handles all the financial information and installment arrangements. Otherwise, you pay with a credit or debit card.
The Infratonic 9 it is also sold by The Chi Institute through Amazon: for sports injuries recovery, abdominal pain relief, and menstrual cramps relief. If you buy the Infratonic 9 from Amazon, The Chi Institute will be sending your device. This is the I-9 sound wave device that I use to reduce the pain of migraine attacks and of atypical trigeminal neuralgia.
You can click on the Chi Institute / Sound Vitality images in this post or the links in this paragraph to be taken directly to their site.
Overall, I am extremely happy with the Infratonic 9 sound wave device for the reduction of acute and chronic pain, including migraine attacks and atypical trigeminal neuralgia (now called neuropathic facial pain, to include both the constant pain and the excruciating lightning-bolt pain). The Chi Institute’s Infratonic 9 also relieves the excruciating pain of hemiplegic migraine attacks and the lightning-bolt pain of trigeminal neuralgia. Further, the amount of healing on the neuropathic facial pain has been amazing. Using the I-9 sound wave device to reduce the chronic pain has allowed me to begin writing again and to be more functional in my life. The Infratonic 9 has also given me hope that I may one day be completely pain-free.
For more of my articles on migraine,
see Migraine & Chronic Pain.
Rechargeable Battery Update: I have not gotten 3 years’ life out of one battery. In fact, almost 2 years after purchasing the unit, I am on my 5th battery unit, which, at $20 per unit plus $8 shipping, I find rather expensive. To date, I have not been able to find any other batteries that I might substitute in the unit. Either the Chi Institute has not previously used their devices for chronic pain patients, i.e., they have not used the device every day all day long, or the company is still used to units which are plugged in and do not need to be recharged. In any event, this expensive consumption of battery packs needs to be taken into account when purchasing an I-9. I find the pain relief so significant that it is worth the cost of the batteries, but I would have liked to have been alerted to the fact that I would have to purchase additional batteries with the unit itself. (1 Mar 2020) [back]
Battery life update: When the unit was new (2018), I got as much as 2.5 days of continuous use before the unit alerted me, with a noise and the battery light, that it needed to be recharged; after I had the I-9 for about 18 months, the battery began to last only about 40-45 hours of continuous use before alerting me that it needs to be recharched. (6 Oct 2019)[back]
Performance and Customer Service update: My original device began behaving erratically, once again, in April 2019, less than a year after purchase, and still within the warranty period. The device kept turning itself off randomly but without the usual accompanying warning beep. It was also taking about 8 hours to charge, despite the newly installed battery. Sound Vitality sent me a demo device as well as a new plug, along with a shipping label to return my defective unit. As of this date, The Chi Institute has decided to keep the defective unit while I will keep the demo unit, which is performing marvelously and is greatly reducing my pain. I am beginning to have a few hours each day completely pain-free: there is still pressure in my head and face along the middle and upper branches of the trigeminal nerve, but I consider pressure-only an great improvement in the chronic pain. (6 Oct 2019) [back]
* This article contains affiliate links: if you click through and purchase an I-9,
I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.*